Several media outlets have reported that the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) killed about 20 soldiers on Sunday, in an airstrike aimed at Boko Haram.
The soldiers, who had been reinforced from Ngandu Village, were bombed while going to to quell a terrorist attack on Manok, headquarters of Kaga Local Government of Borno State.
While Nigerians expect the usual ‘it was an accident’ response from NAF, the mass killing of Nigerians by those meant to protect them is not an isolate event in recent memory.
In January 2017, a NAF fighter jet on a mission against Boko Haram bombed a refugee camp in Rann, Borno State, killing 126 people, many of them refugees, and injuring scores, including soldiers and aid workers.
Speaking with a visiting U.N. Security Council delegation after the incident, Major-General Leo Irabor, then the head of Nigeria’s counter-insurgency operations, said the “grave mistake” was the result of faulty information.
“The coordinates that were received gave indications that there were presence of Boko Haram within the vicinity,” Irabor said. “It’s just that the wrong coordinates were utterly given.”
In addition, the Defence Headquarters blamed it on “lack of appropriate marking”, Major-General Enenche, then Director of Defence Information, saying the “location was not reflected in the operational map as a humanitarian base’’.
Also, in July 2019, 13 people died following an airstrike launched to repel fighters believed to be from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction of Boko Haram who had attacked a military base in Gajigana, Borno State.
In April 2020, a fighter jet belonging to NAF fired a bomb on Sakotoku village, Damba Local Government Area of the same state, killing 17 people, including children and women playing under mango trees.
Oftentimes, the militar either refused to take responsibility or blame the tragedies on problems with coordinates. And, most importantly, there were no conseuences for the officers culpable in the needless deaths.
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