The Zamfara State Council of Chiefs again on Sunday berated the Nigerian Air Force over the bombing of innocent villagers in the state.
The Emir of Bungudu and spokesman for the traditional rulers, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, restated the position of council that NAF “concocted names and figure” of neutralised bandits.
He said the traditional rulers had accepted NAF’s challenge to provide the names of civilian victims killed during its air strikes on supposed bandits’ hideouts.
He said a list of innocent people killed by the bombing was being compiled.
The council of chiefs after a meeting in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, said many innocent villagers had been killed in misdirected air strikes by the military in the ongoing fight against bandits in the state.
The traditional rulers had said, “The council noted that air strikes undertaken by the military do not hit the main camps of the bandits.
“Reports from Mutu in the Tsafe Local Government Area, Tangaram in the Anka Local Government Area and Dumburum in the Zurmi Local Government Area, among others, are that the areas shelled were not the actual hideouts of the bandits and the victims were innocent civilians.”
But on Friday, NAF faulted the traditional rulers and challenged them to provide evidence of dead civilians.
The traditional rulers, however, maintained their position, promising to buttress their claims with incontrovertible evidence of dead civilians.
The Emir of Bungudu, who spoke on behalf of the emirs, insisted that the air strikes did not hit the target, but rather killed innocent victims.
NAF had on Friday claimed its fighter jets destroyed the bandits’ logistic base in Ajia, Birnin Magaji Local Government Area and killed many bandits.
But the Emir of Bungudu insisted that the airmen missed their targets and killed innocent people.
Attahiru said, “There is no where called Ajia in Birnin Magaji. They just concocted names and figure. Who identified those killed as bandits?
“We stand by our statement. It was the complaint from our people. Whether we can provide evidence or not, it is a matter of time.
“We are compiling a verifiable and evidence-based comprehensive report that will include a list of innocent victims. Our outcome will shock Nigerians.”
The Emir of Bungudu also pointed out the tactical loopholes noticed in the Air force aerial attacks.
He observed that whenever the Air force carried out aerial attacks, there were no ground troops to complement air raids and mop up the fleeing bandits.
This, he said, allowed bandits to escape and mix with innocent people, who lived in fear and were at the mercy of the fleeing hoodlums.
The traditional ruler stated, “We will be the happiest people in Nigeria to see these bandits flushed out of our state. What we complained about is that they should tread with caution. We are not interested in any blame game.
“If they can review and adopt new tactics, one month is enough for them to restore normalcy in a situation they have been on for almost one and a half years.
“The army has been telling us all this while that it has thousands of troops on the ground. Why did it take them (the troops) so much time to neutralise these bandits and allow banditry and kidnapping to fester to this level in Zamfara State?
“If truly they have located and bombed the bandits’ enclaves as they want to make us believe, it is just a matter of time. The truth will surely surface,” Attahiru stated. – Punch.