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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Rann and Tudun Biri: Tragedies of Unchecked Military Air Strikes on Innocent Civilians

The revelation that external actors, particularly the United States, may wield significant influence over the deployment of Nigerian military assets raises critical questions about national sovereignty

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By Abdulrauf Aliyu

In the quiet village of Tudun Biri, nestled within the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Nigeria, the night of Sunday marked an indelible tragedy. The air, usually filled with laughter and celebration, turned into a somber symphony of grief. As the residents were joyously observing Maulud, a sacred Islamic celebration, an unexpected horror unfolded. The Nigerian Army’s drone air strike, purportedly targeting terrorists, wreaked havoc among the innocent villagers, shattering families and leaving the community in mourning.

Jaafar Jaafar, a journalist known for his incisive reporting, sheds light on a disconcerting aspect of the incident. According to Jaafar, the Nigerian military might not have full control over the deployment of its advanced air assets, particularly the Super Tucano. Disturbingly, it is suggested that the United States exercises significant influence, if not control, over when and where these lethal machines are unleashed in the fight against terrorism on Nigerian soil.
Jaafar points out that the U.S. involvement in such operations is not a new revelation. Referring to a report published by The Intercept in July of the previous year, he draws parallels between Tudun Biri and the tragic events in Rann, Borno State, on January 17, 2017. The Rann incident, which resulted in the deaths of 160 civilians at an IDP camp, highlighted the dangerous consequences of unchecked military actions.

The report indicates that the U.S., through the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), played a role in the Rann air raid. U.S. surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations, including the use of drones such as the Predator, have been an integral part of the Nigerian counter-terrorism efforts. It raises questions about the extent to which external actors influence the decision-making processes that lead to devastating consequences for innocent civilians.

The haunting similarities between Rann and Tudun Biri raise unsettling questions. The specter of the Rann incident, where the U.S.-Nigerian military forces conducted a kinetic air strike resulting in civilian casualties, looms large. The aftermath of Rann saw a clandestine investigation by Brig. Gen. Frank J. Stokes, commissioned by the U.S./Africa Command, to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the tragic event. The question now arises: Is Tudun Biri another tragic case echoing the unresolved issues of Rann?

The gravity of the Tudun Biri incident cannot be understated. Families, who were gathered to celebrate Maulud, were caught in the crossfire of a military operation gone awry. The toll on human lives is devastating, with some families losing as many as 5, 10, or even 15 members. In some heart-wrenching instances, entire families faced near-total annihilation. The echoes of the Rann incident suggest that the lessons from the past have gone unheeded, leading to a recurrence of tragedy in Tudun Biri.

The aftermath of the Tudun Biri air strike paints a grim picture. The loss of life is not merely a statistic but a profound human tragedy. Innocent men, women, and children, who had gathered to celebrate a religious occasion, became unintended victims of a military operation. The scars left behind are not just physical but emotional, tearing apart the fabric of the community.

Reports from Tudun Biri tell tales of inconsolable grief, with families mourning the untimely demise of their loved ones. The question on everyone’s lips is: who will be held accountable for this tragedy? The parallels with Rann highlight the urgent need for a thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Tudun Biri incident. The grieving families deserve answers, and justice must be served.

The revelation that external actors, particularly the United States, may wield significant influence over the deployment of Nigerian military assets raises critical questions about national sovereignty. While collaboration in the global fight against terrorism is essential, the balance between external support and maintaining control over domestic military operations must be carefully calibrated.

The Tudun Biri incident underscores the need for a reevaluation of the existing arrangements governing the deployment of advanced military technology on Nigerian soil. If indeed foreign powers have a say in when and where these lethal assets are utilized, it not only compromises the autonomy of the Nigerian military but also jeopardizes the lives of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

The Rann incident stands as a stark reminder of the importance of accountability and justice in the aftermath of tragic military actions. The secretive investigation that followed the Rann air strike, commissioned by the U.S./Africa Command, raised concerns about transparency and impartiality.

As Tudun Biri grapples with the aftermath of a similar tragedy, the Nigerian government must ensure that a thorough and independent investigation takes place. The families of the victims deserve transparency, truth, and, most importantly, justice. The international community, too, should play a role in holding those responsible accountable and preventing such incidents from recurring in the future.

The sad events in Tudun Biri echo the painful history of Rann, bringing to light the complexities and dangers of unchecked military actions, especially when influenced by external actors. The loss of innocent lives in the pursuit of counter-terrorism efforts is a grave consequence that demands introspection, accountability, and justice.

As the mourning continues in Tudun Biri, the Nigerian government must take swift and decisive action to investigate the incident, learn from past mistakes, and implement measures to prevent a recurrence. The international community, particularly the United States, must reflect on the unintended consequences of its involvement in foreign military operations and prioritize the protection of civilian lives.

In conclusion, Rann and Tudun Biri should serve as catalysts for change—a turning point in the way military operations are conducted and monitored. The memories of those lost in these tragic incidents should not fade away but serve as a constant reminder of the need for responsible and accountable use of military force in the pursuit of global peace and security.

Abdulrauf Aliyu
An economist and Policy Analyst writes from
45 Ashiru Road, U/Dosa New Extension

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