Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, the Chief of Air Staff, expressed his regret to the Nasarawa State Government for the tragic air strike that killed many people in the Rukubi community of Doma Local Government Area in January 2023.
Marshal Abubakar visited Governor Abdullahi Sule at the Government House in Lafia on Friday and explained that the Nigerian Air Force did not mean to harm the residents of the area. He said that the NAF had received an intelligence report that some terrorists were riding motorcycles near the Rukubi community and tried to attack them with weapons, but unfortunately, many innocent civilians were caught in the crossfire.
He lamented the security situation in the state and promised that the NAF would do its best to stop the menace of terrorism, banditry, cattle rustling, and kidnapping in Nasarawa State and the whole country.
His words reads, “It is not news that the general area (Rukubi) at that time had been well known for its insecurity occasioned by kidnapping and terrorism. Within the period you would recall that six primary school pupils were also kidnapped in the Doma LGA.
“This necessitated the surveillance by the Nigerian Air Force within the period of time. Unfortunately, the airstrike killed some civilians at the location.
“The unfortunate incident of January 2023 was in no way deliberate as no military the world over, will intentionally kill those it is mandated to protect.
“Therefore, our visit to you (Governor Sule) is to solicit your kind intervention in interfacing with the representatives of the victims of the accidental air strike at Rukubi.
“Our interest in initiating ways and means in reaching out to the victims, their families, or their representatives is on the need to calm nerves and bring a close to the matter.”
The governor praised the NAF for admitting its errors and for offering to compensate the victims and their families of the accidental air strike.
Sule was moved and also recalled how the incodent led to the death of an 80-year-old man’s nine children and more than 80 cows in the strike.
“When the incident happened, I did not know how to handle it. I had to invite the Miyetti Allah leadership to come in and help me calm them.
“One of them, who is about 80 years old, made me shed tears because he said he had lost his nine children and about 80 cows to the airstrike.
“They all perished. He looked at me and said, I have nothing anymore here (on earth). I do not have children or cows. What do you want me to do Mr. Governor?,
“I looked at him and encouraged him to be patient, reminding him that he came to this world alone without any of those things and he will go back to the Almighty Allah one day without any of those things.
“That was how he stopped crying and became calm on the matter,” the governor said.