Chief of Air Staff finally apologizes for 2023 airstrike which killed dozens of herdsmen in Nasarawa

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has issued an apology to the Nasarawa state government and the families of victims affected by an accidental airstrike that occurred in January 2023 in the Rukubi community of Doma Local Government Area.

During a condolence visit to Governor Abdullahi Sule at Government House, Lafia, Air Marshal Abubakar expressed regret over the incident and clarified that the airstrike was not deliberate.

Abubakar explained that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) had received intelligence about the presence of suspected terrorists on motorcycles in the Rukubi community.

In an attempt to confront the threat, an accidental airstrike led to the unfortunate loss of innocent civilian lives.

The Chief of Air Staff emphasized that the incident was unintentional, stating that no military force would deliberately harm those it is mandated to protect.

He further highlighted the prevailing insecurity in the state, particularly incidents of kidnapping and terrorism, and assured the governor of the Nigerian Air Force’s commitment to addressing these challenges.

His words: “I, Air Marshal Abubakar, and my team are in the State to sympathize and condole the Government and people of the state over the killing of some herders in Rukubi community of Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, in a military airstrike in January of 2023.”

“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 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 on the need to calm nerves and bring a close to the matter.”

In response, Governor Sule appreciated the Nigerian Air Force for acknowledging its mistake and for committing to appease the victims and their relatives.

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