Nigeria's Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, has met with families and victims of the accidental air strikes that occurred on Jan. 24, 2023, near Rukubi in Doma Local Government Area (LGA) of Nasarawa State.
This was revealed on Sunday in Abuja by the Director, Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force (NAF), AVM Edward Gabkwet.
At the meeting in Lafia on Jan. 26, the CAS expressed regrets over the incident, saying the incident reports showed that innocent civilians might have erroneously been killed or injured in the process.
He said that the unfortunate incident was not deliberate but was targeting suspected terrorists and cattle rustlers in view of the heightened level of insecurity in the area at the time.
Abubakar said that the primary responsibility of the NAF remained to safeguard lives and properties of all Nigerians, adding that NAF would not deliberately engage in acts that would put the lives of Nigerians at risk.
He informed the families and victims that the interface reflects NAF’s commitment to conflict resolution and reconciliation and a step towards addressing grievances, fostering understanding as well as rebuilding trust between NAF and the civilian population.
Earlier, the air chief met with Gov. Abdullahi Sule and solicited his support in interfacing with the representatives of the victims.
The interface, according to him, was to assist in answering some important questions, promoting accountability, transparency and allowing NAF to learn valuable lessons to mitigate similar incidents, going forward.
He said that the need for accountability and transparency was to demonstrate NAF’s commitment to taking responsibility as well as underscoring its humanitarian concerns for civilians negatively affected by ongoing air operations.
According to him, this is the first time a military organization is owning up to mistakes committed over a year ago, and I must commend you immensely.
“The fact that you have come personally and want a closure of this matter is the peak of professionalism, worthy of emulation and commendation,” he said.