Photograph — AIN online

A report by Amnesty International reveals that the Nigerian Air Force launched an air raid on five villages in Adamawa State in Northern Nigeria in December last year. A fighter jet and a helicopter fired at villagers as a deterrent to communal violence, after Fulani herdsmen had attacked five villages in the same area of the state. The Fulani attack had been a revenge attack after members of the Fulani pastoral community including children were killed.

Amnesty’s investigations into what really happened in the villages revealed that helicopters and jets launched an air raid soon after the herdsmen began their attack on the villages. 86 people died from both attacks; 51 from gunshot and machete wounds inflicted by the herdsmen, while 35 died from the airstrikes. Some of the victims were buried in a mass grave. Read the report here.

The Director of Amnesty International office in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho has called for investigations into the attack, while also condemning the rashness of the Nigerian Air-force. “Launching air raids is not a legitimate law enforcement method by anyone’s standard. Such reckless use of deadly force is unlawful, outrageous and lays bare the Nigerian military’s shocking disregard for the lives of those it supposedly exists to protect,” he said.

The Human rights organization has also asked for footage of the incident from the Nigerian Air-force, who says it recorded the attack. The Air-force initially said the shots fired at the villagers from an Alpha Jet and an EC 135 helicopter were ‘warning’ shots. It changed its narrative two weeks later by saying the shots were fired in self-defence after Fulani herdsmen had fired on the helicopter.

This latest report has shown how difficult it is for Nigeria’s federal government to end the clash between farmers and herdsmen around Nigeria’s middle belt. And, amidst allegations that the Nigerian Defence Forces are aiding Fulani herdsmen under the command of President Buhari, this incidence will not assuage doubts, but rather provide fodder for more talks on the president’s assumed ethnocentrism.

Its hard to believe that the Nigerian military hasn’t done what it has been accused of doing; they are somewhat ‘experienced’ in extrajudicial killings. 52 people died and another 120 were injured when a Nigerian Air Force jet dropped a bomb on an IDP camp in Borno state, Nigeria this time last year. Nigerian Soldiers also killed more than 300 members of Nigeria’s Shiite group in 2016; murders which have largely gone unsolved, and culprits not brought to justice.

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