*Lauds Nigerians for showing understanding with armed forces
*58 northern senators visit victims, donate N58m
*Southern Kaduna seeks more support for victims
Kingsley Nwezeh, Sunday Aborisade in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa, has promised Nigerians that the unfortunate drone incident that killed and injured many people at Tudun Biri community in Igabi Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State, won’t reoccur in future military operations.
This is as a delegation of the Northern Senators Forum, consisting of 58 senators and led by the Chairman of the forum, Senator Abdul Ningi, and Senator Abdul’aziz Yari, yesterday visited the injured victims and deceased families and donated N58 million.
The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), has however appealed to Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other public-spirited groups and individuals to complement governments’ efforts in supporting the victims.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Dr. Anthony Ojukwu (SAN), has urged the Nigerian Army to include human rights education in its training and operations.
What would have been a celebration of another major victory against bandits in Kaduna State last Sunday turned out to be a sad moment for the Nigerian Army following a miscalculated drone attack by the troops of the Nigerian Army, which killed several people in the Kaduna community.
Musa gave the assurance yesterday in Abuja while speaking with journalists at the fourth edition of the Chief of Defence Staff Armed Forces and Security Agencies Half Marathon Championship 2023.
He said the nation and the armed forces were mourning those who died during the incident, adding that the accident was regrettable.
The defence chief said the military would take every measure to ensure that the mistake never occurs again.
“We pray for the repose of those that have died and those that are injured; we will make sure that they are provided for.
“The federal government and everyone are putting hands on deck to ensure that we take care of the community; take care of those that have been injured and to also ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
“I want to thank all the Nigerians for understanding with members of the armed forces and other security agencies.
“It was not deliberate; it was something that should not have been.
“We are going to move forward and we are using this competition to appreciate Nigerians for all their support and love for members of the armed forces and to assure them that we will continue to work very hard.
“We want to restore peace and tranquillity in Nigeria and God willing, all of us together, will achieve that,” he said.
A delegation of the Northern Senators Forum yesterday visited the injured victims and deceased families.
The group expressed their deepest condolences to the affected families and offered their support during this difficult time.
During the visit, Ningi announced, to the victims, a donation of N58 million which was contributed by the 58 northern senators.
He said: “This contribution demonstrates the commitment of the northern senators to supporting their constituents in times of need.”
Also speaking on the tragedy, Senator Yari, who is representing Zamfara West, expressed his profound grief and condemned the incident.
Yari also called for stronger measures to ensure that such accidental deaths do not reoccur, while also welcoming the investigation by the authorities into the cause of the accident.
Southern Kaduna Seeks Support for Victims
Reacting to the incident, SOKAPU appealed to NGOs and other public-spirited groups and individuals to complement government efforts in supporting victims of the drone attack.
Caretaker Committee Chairman of SOKAPU, Ishaya Auta, made the appeal in a statement issued yesterday in Kaduna.
Auta commiserated with the families of the victims and prayed for the repose of the souls of the deceased.
He regretted that just when the state was breathing a sigh of relief from the insecurity following a new approach being deployed by the current administration in fighting terrorists and other criminal elements, the unfortunate incident occurred.
The group called for a thorough investigation of the incident to ensure that appropriate sanctions are meted out on those found culpable to forestall future recurrence.
“Though regrettable as it is, SOKAPU commends the Army for its prompt admittance to responsibility for the bomb tragedy, which it attributed to an error strike, with assurances of commitment to avoid future recurrence.
“However, SOKAPU hereby calls for a full investigation by the relevant professional bodies/agencies of the cause of the incident and appropriate sanction be meted on those found culpable to forestall future recurrence.”
NHRC Urges Army to Include Human Rights in Training, Operations
In a related development, the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Ojukwu, has urged the Nigerian Army to include human rights education in its training and operations.
Ojukwu made the call at a forum on civil-military and human rights organised in Abuja by the NHRC as part of events to mark its human rights week.
He said the Nigerian Army should understand that respect for human rights is not antithetical to military objectives but is fundamental to achieving lasting peace and security.
He insisted that allegations of human rights abuses must be investigated promptly, impartially, and transparently, adding that the rule of law must prevail, and those responsible for violations must be held accountable.
“It is not just about defending territorial integrity but also about upholding the values of justice, equality, and respect for human rights upon which our nation is built.
“The NHRC as a custodian of these sacred values, acknowledges the challenges faced by the armed forces and recognises their sacrifices.
“The role of the military in a democratic society is pivotal. However, amidst the complexities of modern warfare and internal security operations, the significance of human rights cannot be overstressed.
“Incidents of human rights violations, however isolated, cast a long shadow on the noble service of our military and the trust placed in them by the citizens they are sworn to protect,” he said.
In light of this, Ojukwu urged incorporating comprehensive human rights training within the military curriculum.
Ojukwu further said collaboration between civil society and the military is also vital.
Similarly, the Chairperson of the Governing Council, NHRC, Dr Salamatu Suleiman, said the partnership between the commission and the military has been instrumental to the cultivation of a culture of human rights within the military.
Speaking at the event, a lawyer serving in the Defence Headquarters’ Legal Services Department, Maj AA Goni, said military officers should be protected from human rights abuses too.
“Once civilians see an officer in uniform seeking to enforce their fundamental rights, they immediately reach for their phones and claim the officer is assaulting people,” Goni explained.
Northern Lawyers Vow to Sue FG over Kaduna Killings
In another development, the Concerned Northern Lawyers’ Forum has vowed to institute legal action against the federal government for adequate compensation for the victims of the Tudun Biri attack.
Addressing journalists yesterday on behalf of the lawyers’ forum, Nafi’u Abubakar, explained that the forum would ensure that the families that suffered irreparable loss as a result of this unfortunate incident get justice.
Nafi’u who spoke in Kaduna urged the federal government to take immediate and decisive action to ensure a thorough and independent investigation into this incident.