Six Bachama ethnic communities in Adamawa State have vowed to drag the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged bombings of their communities.
The people of Lawaru, Dong, Nzoruwe, Pulum, Kodomti and Shaforon allege that NAF on December 4, 2017 bombed their communities during clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
They alleged that NAF personnel were involved in human rights abuse, genocide and conspiracy with herdsmen to kill several people, destroy properties and displace many including women and children from their ancestral homes.
The Bachama communities in a statement in Yola alleged that NAF engaged in “gross violation of Human Rights and genocide against their communities.”
The statement was signed by six representatives of the affected communities and read to journalists in Yola at the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat by their spokesperson, Lawrence Jonathan.
The communities said they had decided to seek justice by dragging the NAF to the ICC since the Nigerian government allegedly appeared reluctant to act on their allegations.
“The 4th December 2017 attacks has shown clear manifestation of complicity by government and security agencies. The Numan attacks have thus become the first time in the history of Nigeria that Nigeria Air Force used drones, helicopters and fighter jets to provide aerial cover for Fulani terrorists (herdsmen) to kill many people and destroy property on behalf of a terror group.
“The hidden narrative in this case is that the herders were avenging the killings of their kith and kin and so they should be “assisted” with such unlawful excessive use of force for the Bwatiye communities to learn a bloody lesson,” they said.
According to the communities “it was a clear human rights abuse and genocide committed by the Nigerian Air force over air raids on communities around Numan during clashes between farmers and herdsmen on December 4, 2017.”
However NAF’s Director of Public Relations, Olatokunbo Adesanya, an air vice marshal, had earlier denied any damage resulted from NAF air raids on the five communities which are around Numan.
Contrary to claims by Amnesty International and the communities that the EC 135 attack helicopter and an Alfa jet deployed to Numan in response to attacks by “hoodlums” on the area caused significant destruction against fleeing villagers, NAF said it was not true that its aircraft set any village on fire or caused the deaths of any villager.
But the communities’ spokesperson, Mr. Jonathan, faulted the response of NAF, saying it was fabricated to cover up the truth. He said the communities agreed with the reports of Amnesty International on January 30, that the air raids of December 4, 2017 on Lawaru, Dong, Kodomti, Nzuruwei and Shaforon caused “significant destructions”.
“Although Amnesty International reported that ‘it was not possible to establish how much of the deaths and destruction was caused by the direct result of the air attacks or attributable to the attack by herdsmen, eyewitnesses accounts and rockets remnants found in Lawaru, Dong, Nzoruwe, Pulum, Shaforon, Kodomti and others after the raids clearly established the facts.”
Mr. Jonathan said the communities will go to any length to ensure justice over the killings of hapless citizens being attacked by herdsmen.
“We would spare no efforts to bring justice to those killed by the genocidal attacks against our people by the Nigeria Air force, even if that means going to the International criminal court to cause further investigations into the human rights abuse and for the whole world to know the truth of what happened.
“That our situation is beyond farmer/herdsmen clashes because NAF cannot come into the situation and bomb people being attacked, killing maiming and destroying their buildings. Our problem is different, there’s a general plan of genocide against our people (Bwatiye) and that is why we want Nigerians and the world to know.”
The communities also demanded that an international investigation be conducted into the attacks to unveil the mystery behind the involvement of the NAF.