A former Senator representing Kaduna Central has said that the recent bombing of a crowd celebrating Maulud in Tudun Biri village of Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State can’t be a mistake.
Over 90 people were killed and many others injured in the Sunday night airstrikes by the Nigerian Army which described the shelling as accidental and targeted at bandits.
Reacting to the development during an interview on Trust TV’s Daily Politics, the human rights activist described the tragedy as a grave act of negligence the government must take seriously.
He said, “It’s important that the public understand the context and concept of what is happening in Kaduna as far as security issues are concerned. In the last few years, almost about 70 per cent of the state has been battling cases of banditry and terrorist attacks.
“Southern Kaduna is a well-known case when it comes to issues of attacks by bandits and their unholy activities. In the central part of Kaduna, that’s Birnin Gwari and Igabi (where this incident happened) and Giwa local governments, there have been a history of serious attacks.
“NDA was attacked. School of Forestry was attacked. Airport Quarters was attacked. All of these happened in the same local government. In all of these attacks, there has never been an incident where these terrorists were arrested and killed, or, in any way, neutralized.
“So, this bombing at Tudun Biri could be said to be a serious negligence. It is a village and whatever device you’re using, whether humans or drones, crowds of people were celebrating within the centre of the village, and a statement that came from the army was contradictory. First, they said it was a mistake. And secondly, they were justifying it with the fact that there were bandits or terrorists they were pursuing and so they carried the attacks there.
“But there’s no law that permits them to go after a bandit as long as he has crossed over to a civilian area. Even if bandits are embedded in the civilian quarters, you have to take precautions and take cognizance of the loss of lives that your operations can result in. So, as far as I’m concerned, going by the history of this kind of things, if they were cautious, this wouldn’t have happened. If they worked with intelligence, this wouldn’t have happened.
“Now it’s left for the government at both federal and state levels to take action to prevent further occurrence. But we have a history of this thing happening. And the reasons they have been giving are more like justifications. So there’s no way this was a mistake.
“Can you tell me that if a terrorist is located in a government area, especially where the high and mighty are, a similar attack could also take place? So I think what has happened is a disaster and a professional negligence and there’s nothing required other than unreserved apology.”
The former legislator added that considering the recurring bandit and terrorist attacks across the country, and the inability of the security forces to tackle them, repetitive killing of civilians was not different from banditry.
He said, “With all the trillions of naira we have spent on defence and security in the last eight years, these top-ranking terrorists are still roaming freely. We’ve seen videos of terrorists moving on motorcycles in Niger State, in Katsina State, in Zamfara State, without attacks launched on them. Sometimes we even hear people saying they should be allowed to pass.
“So if you don’t launch attacks on terrorists on motorcycles, who are you going to kill? And then we hear that bombing has neutralized so and so number of terrorists and the next day we see them moving around and killing people. There was a time it was even said that Bello Turji was cornered and he was begging for freedom, but then it happened to be all hoax.
“So, if we want to get down and address this issue of terrorism, we have to show no mercy specifically targeted at these terrorists’ heads. Turji is still operating freely. Alero is still operating freely. Balero is still operating freely. Dogon Gida is still operating freely. But the military is killing innocent civilians. So how are they different from the bandits?”