A report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has described as unacceptable the Nigerian military’s delay in owning up to the killing and injuring of dozens of civilians in its erroneous airstrikes.
The report released yesterday said 39 civilians were killed in the erroneous airstrikes on January 24, 2023, that killed 39 civilians and injured at least 6 others at Kwateri, in Nasarawa State, adding that at least 300 innocent people have been killed in airstrikes targeted at bandits or Boko Haram terrorists in the last seven years.
“Since 2017, over 300 people are reported to have been killed by airstrikes that the Nigerian air force claimed were intended for bandits or members of the Islamist armed group Boko Haram, but instead hit civilians,” the report said.
The report called on the Nigerian military to provide full accountability for their actions and financial compensation and livelihood assistance based on the needs of the victims and their families.
The report further noted that the Nigerian authorities have provided little information and no justice. “The government should ensure an urgent, independent, impartial, and transparent inquiry into the attack that took place in Kwatiri, a small settlement in Nasarawa State.
“Almost six months after the incident, the Nigerian air force admitted for the first time, in response to an inquiry from Human Rights Watch, to carrying out the airstrike. It said it was an air component of Operation Whirl Stroke, a joint military, police, and department of state security operation deployed in response to security problems in and around Nasarawa State. The Air Force claimed it carried out the airstrike in response to ‘suspected terrorist’ activities but provided no details.
“The military’s unacceptable delay in owning up to the killing and injuring dozens of civilians only compounds the tragedy of this shocking attack,” said Anietie Ewang, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“The Nigerian military should provide full accountability for their actions as well as financial compensation and livelihood assistance commensurate with the needs of the victims and their families.”