- The Nigerian Air Force says its men have never been involved in issues relating to herdsmen and farmers
- The security body condemns a report by Amnesty International which claims human rights abuses against some officers of NAF
- NAF gives details of the incident that happened on the said December 4, 2017
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has condemned the Amnesty International (AI) over a recent report claiming that officers in the north-eastern state of Adamawa committed human rights abuses against villagers around Numan in Adamawa state on December 4, 2017.
NAF said it was unfortunate that a highly respected international organisation would make such 'unfounded allegations'.
“At no time has the NAF been involved in settling any ‘herdsmen-farmers’ clash in the Numan general area as alleged by Amnesty International.
“It is particularly disturbing that an organisation of the stature of Amnesty International would believe a ridiculous story that the pilot of an aircraft flying at a high speed would be able to distinguish between a herdsman and a local farmer before deciding which one to ‘bomb’!
“Indeed, at the time the NAF intervened in the crisis around Numan on 4 December 2017, there were no two distinguishable groups clashing. Rather, only one group of hoodlums was seen unleashing mayhem on villages near Numan,” a statement by Olatokunbo Adesanya, an air vice marshal and director of public relations and information, said in the morning of Tuesday, January 30.
The statement obtained by NAIJ.com said NAF remains a highly professional organisation, which places high value on respect for human rights, and so sees the allegations as lies.
“In actual fact, the intervention of the NAF in the Numan crisis of 4 December 2017 resulted in the successful dispersal of a group of hoodlums who were setting some villages around Numan on fire,” the statement added.
Explaining what actually transpired on the said date in the lengthy statement, Adesanya said a NAF Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance platform departed Maiduguri to conduct ISR over Numan general area.
“This was in response to a request by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 armoured division of the Nigerian Army (NA), following reports of clashes around that location. Hundreds of people, mostly dressed in black attires, and who appeared armed, were sighted ransacking and setting a village on fire.
“In addition, the hoodlums set large portions of farmlands ablaze. Furthermore, some of the men were seen guiding livestock out of the village. Consequently, a NAF aircraft was called in to support the NA and other relevant security agencies through ‘show of force’ low-level flights.
“This was aimed at dispersing the huge crowd and thereby stopping the ongoing carnage. After several low passes, the crowd was undeterred and refused to disperse. Rather, the assailants started firing shots at the aircraft and continued in their dastardly act of burning houses within the settlement.
“The aircraft therefore had to fire shots ahead of the rampaging crowd when it became obvious that they were heading for Numan to inflict further damage. Sequel to the NAF’s intervention, the hoodlums started scattering and fleeing to a nearby bridge.
“Other low passes were conducted by NAF aircraft over the area to prevent the regrouping of the hoodlums around Numan and other villages. It is important to state that the hoodlums had set several villages on fire and much destruction had taken place before the arrival of NAF aircraft.
“Nevertheless, the intervention of the NAF proved decisive in putting an end to the hoodlums’ rampaging activities.
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“At no time did the NAF spokesman identify the hoodlums as herdsmen, as the pilots could not have possibly determined the identities of the hoodlums from thousands of feet in the air. Additionally, the NAF Spokesman has never revised the accounts of the events of the day with any media house,” the statement said adding that without the timely intervention of the NAF, nothing would have stopped the huge mass of hoodlums from burning down Numan, where they were obviously heading as well as killing people.
The statement urged Amnesty International to produce credible evidence to substantiate its “baseless allegations” that NAF air attacks led to the destruction in the villages as well as loss of lives, failing which it should go to the press and retract its allegations.
NAIJ.com earlier reported that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is set to build a Forward Operational Base (FOB) each in Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom states respectively.
This was announced by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar on Saturday, January 28.
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