Air Force Chief Meets with Victims of Accidental Air Strike in Nasarawa, Expresses Regret

Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), recently engaged in a significant meeting with families and victims affected by the accidental air strikes on January 24, 2023, near Rukubi in Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. The meeting, disclosed by AVM Edward Gabkwet, Director of Public Relations and Information of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), took place in Lafia on January 26.

During this crucial interface, Air Marshal Abubakar expressed profound regret over the incident. The air strikes, which were initially aimed at suspected terrorists and cattle rustlers amid heightened insecurity in the area, unfortunately resulted in civilian casualties. Emphasizing that the incident was not deliberate, Abubakar reassured that the primary responsibility of the NAF is to protect the lives and properties of all Nigerians, underlining that the force would never intentionally engage in actions endangering civilian lives.

The CAS conveyed to the families and victims that this meeting was a reflection of the NAF’s dedication to conflict resolution and reconciliation. It represents a step towards addressing grievances, fostering understanding, and rebuilding trust between the NAF and the civilian population.

In a preceding meeting with Governor Abdullahi Sule, Abubakar sought support for interfacing with the victims’ representatives. He highlighted the importance of this interaction in promoting accountability, transparency, and learning critical lessons to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Emphasizing the NAF’s commitment, the CAS stated, “Our efforts to mitigate civilian casualties as well as take responsibility in the event of accidental strikes are not just a reflection of our values as a Service, but are also strategically imperative to our operations.”

Governor Sule welcomed the CAS’s visit and commended his initiative in acknowledging and seeking to rectify the mistakes from over a year ago. He lauded this action as unprecedented in the history of military engagements in the country and as a hallmark of professionalism and integrity.

The Emir of Lafia, Justice Sidi Muhammed, also praised Air Marshal Abubakar for his exemplary leadership and acceptance of responsibility. The Emir noted the importance of such accountability and the community’s acceptance of the Air Force’s apology.

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