SAN FRANCISCO, January 29, (THEWILL) – Amnesty International (AI) has accused the Nigerian Air Force of killing at least 35 people in attacks on villages in the North-Eastern state of Adamawa in December 2017.
According to a report released on Tuesday, AI stated that residents of the villages described being fired upon by a fighter jet and military helicopter as they attempted to flee, at the same time as hundreds of herdsmen took part in a revenge attack on the communities for earlier killings.
“On December 4, Air Force fighter jets fired rockets at villages to deter communal clashes as a cycle of violence and revenge attacks gripped Adamawa state,” Amnesty said.
“The region is a flashpoint for violence between Muslim herders and Christian farmers over rights to grazing land and agriculture. This month at least 168 people have died across five states in such clashes.
“The helicopter and the jet started releasing bombs. Houses started burning. Children started running for their lives,” an unnamed farmer from the village of Shafaron told Amnesty.
The report also described the “devastating cumulative effect of the herders and Air Force attacks, with at least eight villages heavily damaged or completely destroyed by fire.”
Burned husks of vehicles and blackened houses reduced in parts to rubble were shown in an accompanying video from Amnesty. Satellite images depicted large swathes of settlements ravaged by fire.
“Eighty-six people died, with the Nigerian air force responsible for at least 35 deaths, and some 3,000 homes were destroyed in the five villages visited,” said Amnesty.
“Launching air raids is not a legitimate law enforcement method by anyone’s standard,” Osai Ojigho, Amnesty’s Country Director for Nigeria, said in the report which is the latest challenge to the military on human rights.
“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.”
However, Olatokunbo Adesanya, Air Force Spokesman, denied that the force had bombed any locations in the region or fired shots targeting people, saying it had opened fire to dissuade looters and vandals adding that he was unaware of any human casualties.