By Abiodun OBA
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, on Tuesday commiserated with injured survivors of Tudun Biri drone attack by troops of the Nigerian Army and donated the sum of N10million while tendering an unreserved apology.
Recall, the Nigerian Army, on Monday admitted responsibility for the error attack that claimed dozens of lives on Sunday night when the villagers were celebrating Maulud Nabbiy.
The Chief of Army Staff who was accompanied to the village, which is about five kilometres west of the Kaduna International Airport by top military commanders, prayed at the mass grave of the victims.
Speaking with journalists shortly afterwards, the COAS said the accidental strike was done by Unarmed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) platforms on the trail of bandits.
According to him, “On Sunday the 3rd of December 2023, while the Nigerian Army UAV (Unarmed Aerial Vehicle) platforms were conducting armed reconnaissance around the vicinity of Riyawa, Ruma. The drones observed movement of people suspected to be bandits and having trailed them for some time, the decision was taken to strike based on the observation of some tactics usually employed by bandits.
“Unfortunately, the report we got thereafter revealed that it was innocent civilian in Tudun Biri that the drone carried out the strike on,” Lagbaja said.
According to him, with the reports, he felt the urgent and essential need to visit the attacked vicinity physically to first commiserate with the community on the unfortunate incident.
He said that the visit was also aimed at determining the kind of enquiry that would be conducted by the Nigerian Army to forestall reoccurrence of such kind of unfortunate incident.
“We also look beyond to determine the kind of operations we will be conducting going forward in the vicinity and its environs.
“We have already set up inquiry, while visit to the village has given an idea of the kind of expertise that would be employed into the committee. The enquiry committee will ensure a wholistic view and recommendations that will be worthwhile going forward.”
The CoAS said, the Nigerian Army as a responsible organisation of the Government would support the law-abiding citizens and their families for being victims of the unfortunate incident, adding that, the army would also provide support to the entire community to alleviate their sufferings.
He however urged the community to always provide useful information to authorities and security operatives in order to ensure swift action against adversaries.
The District Head of Rigasa, Alhaji Aminu Idris, described the drone attack incident as unfortunate, saying that, over 80 people were buried.
He also confirmed the CoAS statement that the environment was infested by bandits as he said that the community had suffered banditry attacks.
Idris however urged the Army to continue doing its best in protecting the lives and properties of the citizens, as he expressed optimism that the authorities would compensate families of the deceased to ameliorate their sufferings.
The Chief of Army Staff and his entourage thereafter visited the attack survivors at Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital and donated N10million to the survivors for their upkeep.