By Ed Malik, A | January 30, 2023

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), has called for an independent judicial commission of inquiry into the killing of scores of herders in the Kwatiri community of Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement said the government and security agencies, especially the Nigerian Air Force, must come clean on what exactly transpired that led to the mass deaths of herdsmen.

The group also demanded the payment of N100m compensation to the families of each of those “accidentally killed”.

Reports have it that a joint operation involving the military, security, and intelligence components was then mobilized to go and take out the terrorists only for a particular state government official to give the team the wrong location, leading to the bombing of the herdsmen.

HURIWA stressed that reports suggesting that airstrikes ordered by Military High Command going after terrorists accidentally led to the mass deaths should not be disregarded though the state governor, Abdullahi Sule and the police in the state have attributed the herders’ killings to bomb blasts.

HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The conflicting cause of the avoidable deaths of herdsmen in Nasarawa State must be looked into through the constitution of an independent judicial Commission of Inquiry.

“The commission would be tasked to identify who were those bombed by Airforce in Nasarawa. Then say if they are innocent herders, the action is condemnable and they deserve compensation of at least N100 million per person and this should be paid to their families immediately.

“HURIWA also calls for the identification of officials that deceived the Air Force for prosecution for murder. The Commission of Inquiry must also take it upon itself to probe all accidental bombings by the military in the last five years. This is because the Nigerian Air Force has been reported to cause avoidable civilian casualties in its anti-insurgent operations in recent years due to alleged miscalculations and many Nigerians looking to the state for protection have been gruesomely killed by NAF’s alleged indiscriminate and miscalculated airstrikes.

“These accidental strikes include the September 9, 2022 bombardment of a hospital and other healthcare facilities in the Sambisa forest where wounded and sick terrorists and their family members are treated. For instance, on July 6, 2022, a NAF fighter jet was said to have mistakenly bombed civilians in Kakuna village of Katsina State, killing at least one person and injuring scores of others.

“In September 2021, after an initial denial, NAF admitted that one of its fighter jets on a mission against terrorists “unfortunately” bombed civilians in the Buhari community, in the Yunusari Local Government Area of Yobe State. In August 2021, despite pictorial evidence that a military chopper opened fire on boat passengers carrying foodstuffs while traveling from Port Harcourt to Bonny Island in Rivers State, injuring them in the process, the Defence Headquarters had said those shot were “illegal oil bunkers”.

“In April 2021, over 20 soldiers on the ground were allegedly slain in Mainok, Borno State, when a NAF fighter jet responding to attacks on a military camp by Boko Haram insurgents bombed the military camp based on a wrong coordinate.

“The Commission must look into all these and more because the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols limit the barbarity of war. They seek protection for people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics, and aid workers). The Geneva Conventions frown upon the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Direct families of those killed must also get commensurate compensation from the federal government.”

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