The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, has said that it set up a high powered panel to investigate the names of dead civilians released by the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs.
Reports emerged on Thursday that the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs released names of 11 civilians killed by NAF air raids.
According to the Director of Public Relations and Information if NAF, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, who addressed a press conference on Thursday, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, ordered the constitution of the panel, headed by an air vice-marshal.
Daramola further revealed that the panel was instructed to investigate locations in Zamfara and Katsina states as well as the headquarters of Operation Diran Mikiya, the ongoing air force operation against the bandits, so as to verify the claims of the traditional rulers.
The NAF spokesman also insisted that the force did not use bombs in its air strikes in the North-West, claiming that the allegations by the emirs were false and misleading.
“Before any attack mission is conducted or any target is engaged, NAF ensures that it carries out detailed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as a follow-up to reliable credible human intelligence to avoid collateral damage. Moreover, NAF pilots, by training and in line with extant rules of engagement for any operation, do not attack any location if it is observed that non-combatants are present.
“In all its air strikes in the North-West, bombs were never used. The allegation that bombs were used is therefore not only false but misleading. In the light of the allegation by the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs, the Chief of the Air Staff has ordered a high powered panel of inquiry to investigate the veracity or otherwise of the claim.
“The panel will work with the Zamfara State Government as well as the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs and other stakeholders. The panel will scrutinise all evidence presented by the council of chiefs. At the end of the investigation, members of the public would be duly informed. Meanwhile, the air strikes and operations will continue until all the bandits are flushed out.”
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