The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday said it had launched investigation into a video currently in circulation where its personnel were seen flogging arrested bandits in Zamfara State.
The NAF not only condemned the behaviour of the military personnel, but confirmed that some its personnel were part of the joint operations currently going on in the state to flush out bandits.
A statement signed by the spokesman of the Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said a Board of Inquiry has been instituted on the matter, promising that those culpable would not go unpunished.
Daramola said : “The attention of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been drawn to a video and some pictures circulating on some social media and online platforms showing some military personnel flogging suspected armed bandits at Shinkafi Local Government Area (LGA) in Zamfara State.
“The NAF has discovered that some of its personnel were part of the joint team stationed at the Galadi sub-Sector at the time.
“The joint team had, sequel to intelligence reports, intercepted a group of suspected armed bandits, including some fighters from across the border, at their Sububu Forest hideout whilst they were on the verge of executing an attack against innocent civilians in Shinkafi. In the process, the team recovered one AK-47 rifle along with three loaded magazines and three dane guns from the bandits.
“In an effort to obtain further information on the criminals’ plans and the location of their armoury, the troops employed unauthorised, crude corporal methods.
“The NAF wishes to state unequivocally that the troops’ actions of flogging and physically assaulting the disarmed suspects were totally unacceptable and not in consonance with the Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) guiding the conduct of the operation.
“Our personnel have always been directed to respect the rights of innocent civilians as well as captured combatants, no matter the provocation.
“The public is to please note that the NAF has zero tolerance for such human rights violations and has since initiated appropriate action to address the anomaly.
“In this regard, a Board of Inquiry (BOI) has been set up by the Headquarters Special Operations Command (HQ SOC) to determine the remote and immediate causes of the incident with a view to ensuring that appropriate disciplinary action is taken against all NAF personnel found culpable. The public will be kept informed on the outcome of the investigations.
“The NAF, as an organisation, wishes to state that it remains a professional fighting force that will continue to operate within the ambits of all relevant laws and procedures, as well as in line with international best practices, while remaining fully accountable to the Nigerian people,” the statement added.