Air Force opens up on killing 38 ‘innocent’ herders in Nasarawa

THE Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has opened up on the killing of 38 people said to be innocent herders in Rukubi community, Doma local government area of Nasarawa State, in January.

The ICIR had reported how the Nasarawa State police command said it did not know the herders’ killers after the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) accused the Air Force of carrying out the attack.

According to the group, the deceased were returning from Makurdi, Benue State, where they had gone to retrieve their cattle seized by the state’s livestock guards.

On Friday, June 16, the Air Force, through its spokesperson, Ayodele Famuyiwa, an Air Commodore, said at a bi-weekly media briefing that the deceased were planning an attack to kidnap schoolchildren in a secondary school in the area.

He said the troops eliminated the deceased after much surveillance on their activities for days.

Famuyiwa challenged MACBAN and others who supported the group’s claim on the killing to provide pictorial evidence that the Air Force killed innocent herders.

He also said since those killed were eliminated, there had never been any issue of insecurity, including terrorists attack in the area.

He assured that the military had the evidence of killing the “terrorists” but would not make it public.

“The position with the Nigerian Air Force is that terrorists were struck that day and whether it is Miyetti Allah or whatever group that thinks they were innocent people, let them provide the evidence.

“If you think the military is going to give you the evidence of that operation for now, you won’t get it because there are some pieces of information that cannot be declassified now, but let’s put the burden on the people. If they came there to collect their cow, where are the cows? Where is the picture of the truck that was struck? How did those people die?” he asked.

Famuyiwa explained that before January 24, there had been intelligence from several reliable sources on the activities of terrorists in the area.

He noted that there had been an ongoing operation in the state – the Operation Whirl Stroke – adding that the intelligence with the security forces from several sources, including the operation’s commander was that there was a plan by the terrorists within the area to carry out “massive attacks.”



    He added, “There was a secondary school in question where they also planned to kidnap students, too. To that extent, the Air Force carried out surveillance. Remember there had been several intel that built up to that. But this particular intel, there was surveillance and the surveillance confirmed terrorists. I mean terrorists!

    “And how did we know that they were terrorists? Because they have tactics they adopt; you see them coming on bikes in triples, converging at a location and after that, they disappear hiding under the forage. That surveillance continued almost throughout the day until later in the evening when a truck appeared on that scene.”

    He said the truck was suspected to have brought logistics to the “terrorists,” claiming that was why the approval was given by the appropriate authority, leading to a surveillance on the truck, and the resultant onslaught from the military.

    “If you say people died, where is the truck? Where are the cattle? There was a truck. Where is the photograph of the dead bodies?” he queried.

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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