NAF moves to pacify victims of 2023 airstrikes mishap in Nasarawa


Nasarawa Gov. Sule in handshake with Air Marshal Abubakar


The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, has expressed its readiness to bring closure to the controversies over mistaken airstrikes that killed scores of Fulani herders and their cattle in the Rukubi area of Nasarawa State about a year ago for the interest of the Service and the victims’ relatives.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Hasaan Abubakar stated this during a visit to Nasarawa State on Friday.

Abubakar visited Nasarawa Governor Abdullahi Sule and the Emir of Lafia, HRM Sidi Bage to solicit their intervention in resolving the controversies over the airstrike.

“The need to make amends therefore became expedient. Therefore, our visit to you this morning is predicated on the foregoing. And to solicit your kind intervention in interfacing with the representatives of the victims of the accidental airstrikes in Rukubi. As you are aware, Your Excellency, one of our core responsibilities as a Service, is the protection of lives and properties of all Nigerians. Therefore, the unfortunate incident of January 2023 was in no way deliberate, as no military the world over, would intentionally kill those it is mandated to protect,” the Air Force Chief said during his visit to Governor Sule.

At the palace of the Emir of Lafia, Air Marshall Abubakar noted that the interdiction was conducted following several intelligence analyses. But the response led to the death of some people. This he said was discovered after the Service undertook its house cleaning following the public outcry that arose after the strikes.

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“This is very important to bring closure both to these family members as well as to the Nigerian Airforce. It also helps us to ensure that we are accountable and to ensure there is transparency in the conduct of all our operations”, Abubakar told reporters.

Responding while hosting the Air Chief at the Government House, Governor Sule explained how his administration prevented the crises from escalating. He said relatives of victims were prevented from taking the bodies of the deceased to Abuja to protest: “Exactly one year ago, on the 26th of January, I received the Fulani who were affected. They were on their way to Abuja to protest what had happened. We diverted them here to Government House and I remember attending to them downstairs.”

He assured that the government has already deployed strategies to placate those whose relatives were killed or injured in the incident. The governor thanked the Air Force and Marshal Abubakar for seeking to bring an end to the matter.

He pledged to keep supporting the Air Force to carry on the tremendous work it is doing in the State to checkmate the activities of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers

“ I want to appreciate you and the effort of the 122 Response Wing of the Air Force for what they have been doing for us in Nasarawa State, especially in the eastern part of Lafia. They have been marvellous, they have been fantastic. And because of their effort, we have decided to leave the entire eastern part of Lafia only for the Air Force. The police have left it for them, and the Army have left it for them. It is one of the most troublesome areas for us. But since the Airforce came to that area has been calm” he said.

The Emir of Lafia appreciated the Air Force for the initiative, describing it as novel: “We want to register our deep appreciation to the new leadership of the Air Force under the leadership of the chief of Air Staff. This is something novel, it is something new that hasn’t been done. We haven’t seen before that an authority like the Nigerian Air Force has conducted an authorized duty and an accident occurred in the execution of the duty, sometimes these things happen and you don’t see people coming back to say ‘We are sorry, that was an accident that happened when it occurred.’ But this is the first time we are having in our history that the chief of the Air Force himself will come to meet the families of the victims to say sorry to them.”

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