Air Force Probes Air Strike in Yobe, Denies Killing 20 Fishermen in Lake Chad – THISDAY Newspapers
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Military authorities yesterday denied that air strikes conducted in the Lake Chad area killed 20 fishermen.
But speaking at a virtual meeting with senior editors and media executives, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, said the probe into the air strikes that killed civilians in Yobe State was ongoing.
A statement issued in Abuja by Defence Headquarters said the air strikes carried out on the fringes of Lake Chad was aimed at ISWAP elements and hit target.
It said air strikes at Kwatan Daban Masara general area on the fringes of the Lake Chad did not kill 20 fishermen as contained in some reports.
“For the records, it is pertinent to state that the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai on 26 September 26, 2021 acting on credible actionable intelligence on the activities of terrorists in an identified ISWAP Camp at the said location, conducted air strikes on the target.
“This was after careful Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance missions revealed the activities of ISWAP elements in the location. Consequently, the intelligence gathered was processed and carefully analysed between the period of 19 August and 23 September 2021”, it said.
It said persons wearing combat vests and uniforms identified as ISWAP-styled uniforms were seen within the camp.
“Furthermore, neither women nor children were noticed in or around the camp, just as no fishing activities were seen. Instead, canoes loaded with unidentified items were seen parked but not engaged in any fishing activity, an indication that they were to be ferried to another location.
“Having carefully ascertained that nearby civilian settlements were not in the line of fire and a precision strike would disrupt ISWAP logistics movement and neutralise them, a decision was made to conduct a strike on the ISWAP camp”, it said.
The statement signed by Brigadier-General Bernard Onyeuko, said: “Although casualty figures could not be ascertained, the strike was verified to be successful in disrupting ISWAP logistics movement and foot soldiers.
It is important to state that the location is a well-known ISWAP enclave and there is an existing ban on fishing activities within the area. “Additionally, the general area is known as a gateway for movement of logistics by ISWAP elements especially from Kirta and Wulgo locations”.
“The Nigerian military wishes to state categorically that necessary steps were taken to ensure that the presence of the terrorists was ascertained and the strike was precise and professionally executed.
“The military high command will continue to ensure that its troops safe guard lives and properties of innocent citizens. It appreciates the general public for their continuous support and further encourages all to avail the military with credible and timely information that will facilitate our proactive engagements in the fight against terrorism”, it said.
Meanwhile, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, who spoke at a virtual meeting with senior editors and media executives, said the probe into the air strikes that killed civilians in Yobe State was ongoing.
Amao, who was represented by the Chief of Training and Operations,
Air Vice Marshal James Gwani, said investigation was ongoing following the accidental airstrike that killed citizens in Yobe State.
“Investigation is ongoing. It is a very painstaking process. We are in constant communication with Yobe State government and the moment the investigation is completed, I am sure Nigerians will be told the outcome” he said
He added that though the Super Tucano fighter jets yielded positive results in the battle field, air interdiction alone won’t end insurgency and banditry.
He, therefore, called for collective efforts to end the menace ravaging the country.
“A-29 Super Tucano have brought in a lot of bites to the fight and I can tell you for a fact that as we speak, the air planes are flying in the North-east.
“There is a very positive response as to the effectiveness of the operations of those air planes in the theater of operations but air power alone cannot win this war.
“It will take a collective efforts like the CDS has said the military, CSOs and every other stakeholders. While the super Tucano is going to play a very prominent role let’s not sit back and think the super Tucano alone is going to end this war, it is not going to happen. It is going to be a collective effort,” he said