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DHQ: We Bombed Terrorists In Nasarawa Not Innocent Herdsmen

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) dismissed as unfounded, allegations by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigerian (MACBAN) that scores of its innocent members on their way from Makurdi, were killled in an airstrike in Nasarawa State early this year.

At a media briefing of the Directorate of Military Operations (DMO) in Abuja, Air force Spokesman, Ayodele Famuyiwa,said the narrative by the association was far-fetched.

He spoke just as the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), announced that 64 terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements were killed while 175 others were arrested by troops in collaboration with other other security agencies in various operations aimed at addressing the current security challenges across the country.

The Director, Defence Media Operations (DMO), Maj Gen Musa Danmadami said the military troops also recovered 41 Ak47 rifles, rescued 34 abducted civilians and destroyed stolen crude oil products in the Niger Delta valued at N82.445million from 1 – 15 June 2023.

The two senior military officers spoke during the fortnightly briefing on troops activities and operational successes being recorded in the various operational theaters within the six geo-political zones of the country.

There were lingering reports of concerns from human rights bodies including Amnesty International (AI) about the allegation by Miyetti Allah that dozens of herders were killed in a community in Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State in Januray, on their way from Makurid where they had gone to claim their cows that had been seized by the Benue State Livestock Guard for violatinng the state’s anti-open grazing law.

But speaking to journalists on the matter, Air Commodore Famuyiwa declared that no innocent person was killed in the said operation.

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“Let the people who said innocent people were killed provide the evidence and let the press do that analysis and let the truth come out,” he said.

The Airforce spokesman, who decried the sustained attempts by by some human rights bodies, “to put the military in disrepute,” also blamed the Nigerian media for leveraging on the position of the human rights bodies without necessarily hearing from the Airforce.

“And very sadly blowing up the position of the human rights watch without you doing your own discrete investigation and being sure that whatever position that you are taking is correct.

“On the 24th of January, and even before then, there had been intelligence (reports) from several reliable sources of the activities of terrorists in that particular area. You are all aware of the nefarious activities of criminal elements in that particular area; you are also aware that there’s an on-going operation, that is the Operation Whirlstroke.

“The intel here from several/different sources and even to the Commander of that Operation and to the air component, was that there was a plan by terrorists within that area to carry out a massive attack and then there was a secondary school in question that the terrorists were bound to kidnap students. To that extent, the Airforce carried out surveillance”, he said.

“There was surveillance and the surveillance confirmed terrorists, and I mean terrorists, and how do you know that they are terrorist? They have tactics which they adopt: you see them coming on bikes in triples, converging at a location and after that, they disappear, hiding under the forage and that surveillance continued for almost throughout the day until later in the evening when a truck appeared in that scene. The truck was suspected to have brought logistics to them. That was why approval was given by the appropriate authority that, that truck should be take out and the truck was taken out.

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“Now, if anyone is coming around to say innocent people were killed, has the press asked them, where is the photograph of that truck that brought the cattle that they are talking about? The claim is that they came there to come and collect their cattle. Now, if you say people died, where is the truck? where are the cattle? Where is the photograph of the dead bodies and if you do your investigation very well, you will discover that if you say people died from a strike, there’s going to be a way the bodies will look. Did the press do that?, he queried.

Air Commodore Famuyiwa maintained that “the position of the Airforce is that terrorists were struck that day and whether it is Miyetti Allah or whatsoever group that thinks there were innocent people, let them provide evidence. If you think the military is going to give you the evidence of that operation for now, you won’t get it because there are some information that cannot be de-classified now. But let’s put the burden on the people: if they came there to collect their cows, where are the cows? Where is the picture of the truck that was struck? How did those people die? I think the press needs to do better than this”.

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He argued that “if you look at it, after that particular incident, have you heard of any terrorist activity in that area? Have you heard? So, I think we need to do much better. No innocent person was killed. Let the people who said innocent people were killed provide the evidence and let the press do that analysis and let the truth come out.”

Briefing the media on the operational actitivies in the various geo-political zones, Major-General Danmadami disclosed that within the weeks in review, troops in the North-east zone recovered 14 AK47 rifles, one G3 rifle, six dane guns,one FN rifle, one pistol, 2 x 36 hand grenades, two locally made grenades, one RPG tube, one pump action gun, 547 rounds of 7.62mm special, 75 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 46 empty cases of 7.62mm NATO, 15 empty cases of 7.62mm special, 10 empty cases of 12.7mm ammunitions and 1 Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonating fuse.

Other items are 27 sacks of grinded corn, 10 bags of corn grains, 6 bags of beans, 5 bags of local rice, gallon of palm oil, 12 sleeping mats, clothings, 37 sachets of seasoning powder, 15 packs of spaghetti, 12 bar soaps, 3 vehicles, 8 chemical sprayer, two packs of maggi seasoning, five pairs of Boko Haram Terrorist uniforms, eight cartons of fish, 10 motorcycles, 49 bicycles, 14 arrows, 16 mobile phones, 12 sacks of substances suspected to be cannabis and the sum of N11,046,010.00.

“Troops equally neutralized 20 Boko Haram/Islamic State of West Africa Province terrorists, captured seven suspected terrorists, apprehended 40 suspected terrorists logistics suppliers and 15 notorious criminal gang members.

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