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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Varying Accounts of Nigerian Village Bombing Spark Debate About Cover-up

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The governor of Nigeria’s Kaduna state criticized Nigerian defense officials Friday after they said terrorists had embedded themselves in the village that was hit by a drone strike Sunday, killing at least 87 people.

Governor Uba Sani said the statement was careless and lacked empathy.

Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International said the military is trying to suppress atrocities.

Sani, speaking to Lagos-based Channels Television, said the claim by Nigerian defense authorities that the military was targeting terrorists in Tudun Biri village contradicted the initial position of state authorities and the Nigerian army.

He called for an investigation.

“We will not slow down in insisting that this investigation must be concluded within a time frame,” Sani said. “The rebuilding of the community will start in the next three to four weeks.”

The airstrike conducted by drone occurred as the residents of Tudun Biri gathered to mark the birthday of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad on Sunday night.

The Nigerian army said it was an accident. This week, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu called for a thorough investigation and promised to hold officials accountable.

But Amnesty International said authorities frequently make such promises without taking action.

Isa Sanusi, director at Amnesty International in Nigeria, said, “The first thing the government should’ve done was to establish an independent inquiry that will reveal the truth. I don’t give any iota of regard to that claim that anyone found responsible will be punished. It’s just an empty political statement.”

Amnesty International accused authorities of trying to cover up human rights atrocities by putting out contradictory explanations.

Security analyst Chidi Omeje said he suspects that an intelligence failure is to blame but that only an inquiry can learn the truth.

“This is not the first time we’ve had this kind of accident,” Omeje said. “So, I think they should let go the issue about that statement and investigate what really went down.”

Last December, an airstrike by the Nigerian Air Force killed 64 people in northwest Zamfara state. One month later, a military airstrike killed nearly 40 herders in Nasarawa state near the capital.

Critics say authorities have yet to hold anyone responsible for those killings.

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