The Zamfara State Council of Chiefs has taken up the gauntlet thrown at it by the Nigeria Air Force over a claim that the force had killed 11 civilians during an aerial raid at Dumburum community of Zurmi Local Government Area of the state.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that on April 9, the NAF’s fighter jet and a helicopter gunship had launched airstrikes on the rural community, killing scores of bandits.
This development made the community leaders in the area to claim that the raid hit innocent civilians instead of bandit camps.
Addressing newsmen in Gusau on Wednesday, the chiefs represented by the Emir of Bungudu, Hassan Attahiru, named those killed as Mai Daji Barau, Na Dumburum, Suwaiba Alka, Yar Guru Na Dumburum, Maryam Shafiu, Dahe Malan Sule, Buhari Dan Kurma, Zaliha na Dumburum, Aisha Akilu, Alamin Alka and Fati ‘Yar Gum.
According to the chiefs, another eleven innocent people sustained injuries from the bomb shrapnel.
Those who sustained injuries, according to the chiefs, are Haruna Kusu, Muhammad M Sani, AbdulRazak Abubakar, Yakubu Yunusa, Dan Diyya, Sa’a Dayyabu, Yar’wargi Mamman, Gwamna na Dumburum, Rashida Alka, Maryam Akilu and Sadiq Sukuranu. They also named 20 people whose houses were destroyed in the air raids.
The emirs debunked allegations in some quarters that they were jittery due to the success being recorded by the military as a result of the ongoing onslaught against the bandits.
They called for an independent investigation of their claims.
“We had a meeting with the Executive Governor and we provided secret information on the suspected armed bandits, kidnappers and their informants and even those doing business with them.
“We suggested that civilian joint task force members should be recruited. How comes that somebody would just come out and say we have not been helping matters?”
He added, “The crimes transformed from local to more organised ones. The police were earlier deployed and later the military too was deployed. Why is there no respite despite the presence of the military? The soldiers deployed sometimes pay us a visit in the course of their operations.
“is wrong for the military command to, for instance, deploy only 30 soldiers and ask them to engage hundreds of armed criminals in a forest. That is why sometimes they get killed by these criminals. If NAF do their reconnaissance and dislodge the criminals from their camps, the ground troops should occupy the identified bases of the armed criminals.
“Even the attack on Tsanu village by the military, it was innocent civilians that were killed. We can provide documented evidence, but we don’t want to join issues with security operatives.”