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Nigerian Air Force apologies over 2023 Nasarawa bombing

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The Nigerian Air Force has officially acknowledged its role in the tragic accidental airstrike that occurred on January 23, 2023, in Rukubi Community, Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, resulting in the loss of 37 lives.

According to Daily Post, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, expressed deep regret for the unfortunate incident during a condolence visit to the Palace of the Emir of Lafia on Friday.

Addressing the families of the victims, Abubakar clarified that the airstrike was unintended, explaining that NAF had undertaken the operation in response to criminal activities and terrorist attacks, including the abduction of primary school pupils in the area.

“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 the 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 is on the need to calm nerves and bring a close to the matter,” he said.

The airstrike, conducted based on intelligence indicating the presence of terrorists on motorcycles, tragically led to the loss of innocent civilian lives.

Governor Abdullahi Sule commended NAF’s initiative to offer condolences, highlighting its importance in the healing process. He also praised NAF and other security agencies for their efforts in maintaining peace, pledging continued support for their operations.

The Emir of Lafia, Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad (retd), expressed gratitude to the Federal Government and the Chief of the Air Staff for the condolences, recognizing the significance of the apology in the healing process. 

He remarked on the unprecedented nature of NAF’s acceptance of responsibility and apology, noting its importance in fostering trust and reconciliation.

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