With the swirling reports of the alleged bombing of civilians in an air strike, the Nigerian Air Force has denied bombing civilian settlements.
“The attention of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been drawn to some media reports insinuating that the recent air strikes conducted by its Air Task Force for Operation DIRAN MIKIYA killed only innocent civilians in the areas attacked and not bandits.
“The NAF finds such reports rather ridiculous because most of the locations attacked are within the Rugu, Sububu and Kagara Forests general area, which are known armed bandits hideouts that have been attacked in the past, without any outcry,” a statement by the Air Force said.
The Nigerian Air Force launched Operation DIRAN MIKIYA in July 2018 to flush out armed bandits terrorising Zamfara state.
The statement signed by Ibikunle Daramola, Director of Public Relations and Information, insisted that the “target selection process for air operations is particularly rigorous and methodical in order to ensure proper target identification and thereby prevent strikes on wrong locations.”
NAF clarified that the locations attacked from 8 to 11 April 2019 were based on thorough processes that involved human intelligence reports gotten from security agencies and other government sources, traditional and community leaders as well as reliable, vetted informants.
The air force noted that its pilots were trained in line with extant Rules of Engagement (ROEs) for the operation, and they do not attack any location if it is observed that non-combatants, especially women and children, are present.
“In such cases, the pilots would rather return to Base with their munitions unexpended. Consequently, it is inconceivable that the NAF would attack locations where innocent civilians reside,” the statement said.
The Nigerian Air Force frowning at the misleading reports said: “Rather than making such spurious and unsubstantiated allegations, NAF requests that anyone with evidence to the effect that innocent civilians were targeted by the NAF air strikes should produce such evidence.”
It restated its commitment to rid the Northwest of Nigeria of all criminal elements and to ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians.