The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has dismissed allegations 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.
This is as the NAF pointed out, that such reports are rather ridiculous and requested anyone with evidence to the effect that innocent civilians were targeted by the NAF air strikes to produce such evidence.
In a statement made available to The Sight News, the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, explained that 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.
He added that the NAF 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.
In his words, “For the avoidance of doubts, the public is to please note that the locations attacked from 8 to 11 April 2019 were selected based on human intelligence (HUMINT) reports obtained from security agencies and other government sources, traditional and community leaders as well as reliable, vetted informants.
“These were all further confirmed by days of detailed day and night Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions to ensure proper targeting for avoidance of collateral damage.
“To further ensure this, as standard practice, NAF attack aircraft on air interdiction missions are accompanied by ISR platforms that guide them to designated targets. Furthermore, NAF pilots, by training and in line with extant Rules of Engagement (ROEs) for the operation, do not attack any location if it is observed that non-combatants, especially women and children, are present”, he explained further.
While noting that in such cases, the pilots would rather return to Base with their munitions unexpended, he stressed that it is inconceivable that the NAF would attack locations where innocent civilians reside.
“In view of the foregoing, the NAF finds it rather mischievous that anyone would spread such deliberate misinformation whilst the Service is doing its best to effectively respond to the challenges facing the good people of Zamfara State and its environs.
“The NAF, as a professional Service, would not want to join issues with any group of individuals, including traditional rulers, but will rather remain committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Nigerians.
“Accordingly, we shall continue to work assiduously, in synergy with sister Services and other security agencies, to rid the Northwest of all criminal elements. The general public can therefore be rest assured that the NAF will not be deterred but will sustain its air operations to facilitate a return to normalcy that would enable Nigerians in the area pursue their legitimate aspirations.
“In this regard, the NAF hereby advocates public support, and not distracting and unsubstantiated allegations, as its personnel continue to sacrifice towards eliminating all threats to the security and, indeed, the development of our beloved Country”, he concluded.