The Nigerian Air Force and traditional rulers in Zamfara State on Friday clashed over the air strikes launched by NAF against bandits in the state.
While the air force claimed their fighter jets destroyed the bandits’ logistics base in Ajia in Birnin Magaji Local Government Area and killed many bandits in other parts of the state, the Zamfara Council of Chiefs claimed the airmen missed their intended targets but instead killed innocent people.
This came as the United States Department of State issued a level 3 travel alert to its citizens to reconsider travelling to Nigeria, saying they should be wary of kidnapping and hostage-taking, among others, in the country.
Also, interstate bus drivers in Abuja, Lagos and Rivers cried out on Friday over a spate of kidnappings and armed robberies on Nigerian roads in recent weeks.
Friday’s disagreement between NAF and Zamfara emirs came barely a few days after the Federal Government accused monarchs in troubled areas of supporting bandits.
The Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, who spoke on behalf of the emirs, said the air strikes did not hit the camps of the bandits, saying reports from Gusau, Tsafe, Anka and Zurmi local government areas indicated that the areas bombed were not the actual camps of the bandits and the victims were innocent people.
However, NAF on Friday asked the monarchs to produce evidence that innocent people were killed during the air raids.
The NAF said the allegations were mischievous, insisting the air strikes were conducted only after “human intelligence reports”.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in a terse statement told the emirs or anyone to produce evidence that innocent civilians were killed in the air attacks on bandits in the state.
He said, “The Air Force finds such reports rather ridiculous because most of the locations attacked are within the Rugu, Sububu and Kagara forests general area, which are known bandits’ hideouts that have been attacked in the past, without any outcry.
“The NAF’s target selection for operations is particularly rigorous in order to ensure a proper target identification to prevent strikes on wrong locations. The locations attacked in Zamfara were selected based on human intelligence reports obtained from security agencies and other government sources, traditional and community leaders as well as reliable, vetted informants.
“These were all further confirmed after days of detailed day and night Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions to ensure a proper targeting for avoidance of collateral damage.
“The NAF finds it rather mischievous that anyone will spread such a deliberate misinformation. NAF requests anyone with evidence to the effect that innocent civilians were targeted by the air strikes to produce such evidence. The NAF, as a professional service, will not take issue with any group of individuals, including traditional rulers, but will rather remain committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Nigerians.”
The air force said its fighter pilots by virtue of training could verify if an area had combatants or non-combatants, especially women and children.
Daramola said, “As a standard practice, NAF attack aircraft on air interdiction missions are accompanied by ISR platforms that guide them to designated targets.
“Furthermore, NAF pilots, in line with extant Rules of Engagement, do not attack any location if it is observed that non-combatants, especially women and children are present. In such cases, the pilots would rather return to the base with their munitions unexpended. Consequently, it is inconceivable that the NAF would attack locations where innocent civilians reside.”
Super Eagles to Play Tunisia As AFCON 2021 Enters Knockout Stage
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will face the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) round of 16 fixtures.
The mouth-watering clash was announced on Thursday night following Tunisia’s 1-0 loss to the Gambia — which consigned the North Africans to qualify as one of four best third-placed teams in the group stage.
Nigeria had finished top of Group D after winning all three of its group stage matches.
The tie against Tunisia is expected to be a repeat of the bronze medal match at AFCON 2019 in Egypt where Odion Ighalo’s goal confirmed the Super Eagles’ third place.
It is also a reunion for Austin Eguavoen, Super Eagles interim coach, who faced Tunisia at the quarter-finals stage at AFCON 2006 in Egypt. Nigeria won 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to advance into the semi-finals.
In other pairings, Cameroon, AFCON hosts, will face Comoros, tournament debutants, while Burkina Faso will play the Gambia, another debutant nation.
Two giants will also clash as Ivory Coast will slug it out with the Pharaohs of Egypt in a repeat of the 2006 AFCON final. Egypt, the then hosts, had won the clash 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw to deny the star-studded Ivorian team.
The round of 16 ties will begin on Sunday, January 23, with Nigeria’s tie against Tunisia one of two matches for the day.
AFCON ROUND OF 16 FIXTURES
- Nigeria vs Tunisia
- Ivory Coast vs Egypt
- Burkina Faso vs Gabon
- Morocco vs Malawi
- Senegal vs Cape Verde
- Cameron vs Comoros
- Mali vs Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea vs Gambia
IPOB Faults Army, Says We Have No Camps in Ihiala, Criminals Not IPOB Members
The Indigenous People of Biafra has said that it does not have any camp in Lilu, Ihiala in Anambra State. The group claimed that they were not militants or criminals, hence do not operate in hidden camps.
The army, had, on Tuesday, through its spokesman, said it dislodged the camps of IPOB and Eastern Security Networks in Lilu, Ihiala.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, the IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said that the security agencies only unleashed cruelty on the people living in those communities claiming they were members of IPOB and ESN.
Powerful stated that if criminals take refuge in any community in Biafra land, that doesn’t make them IPOB members or ESN operatives.
He said, “We have also not said there are no more criminal gangs in Biafra land just like every other country even in the advanced western nations. But we won’t accept the tagging of every criminal element found in Biafra as an IPOB member or ESN operative.
“Recall that some of these criminals were already mentioned by IPOB leadership sometime during a broadcast. These hoodlums were a creation of wicked politicians in their desperation to discredit IPOB and ESN.”
The group claimed that the Nigeria Army, Police and DSS keeps dishing out falsehoods against IPOB and ESN by tagging those criminals they arrested as IPOB and ESN members.
It said the so-called camp where these said criminals were arrested does not belong to ESN, “They should stop lying against us,” Powerful said.
The statement further reads, “In Orsumoghu, Nnewi South, Lilu Orsumenyi of Ihiala LGA of Anambra State these criminals whose names are Emmanuel aka (Obereagu), Innocent Obiekee from Isingwu Orsumoghu, Izuchukwu from Amaduru Orsumoghu, Ofordie aka Baby, are the ones impersonating ESN/IPOB members using ESN name to commit crimes against the people of these communities they are not ESN members, the communities involved should use their vigilante group and stop them, ESN will help them too.
“In Orlu, Imo State, these criminals whose names are Agu, 50, Vice, Ojoo are the ones impersonating ESN/IPOB members to demonise IPOB and ESN members, they are sponsored by Hope Uzodinma and his co-travellers and traitors to demonise IPOB and ESN members in Imo State.
“They and their gang are collecting illegal levies at the Eke-Ututu market in the name of ESN when they are neither ESN operatives nor IPOB family members.
“The people are collecting proceeds from innocent communities. Collecting N5,000 from Orlu people in the name of ESN. These names mentioned or listed in this press statement have been declared Persona Non-Grata in Biafraland and they remain so. People must stop giving them money they are not ESN operatives and not IPOB volunteers.
“They have been kidnapping people, snatching cars and raping our women in our territory. IPOB volunteers and ESN operatives have also been making efforts to apprehend these agents of sorrow. We cannot watch these beasts created and sponsored by Hope Uzodinma, his masters in Miyeti Allah and their co-travellers destroy Biafra land.
The statement continues, “Again, ESN does not write letters to people or make calls to people requesting funds, funds for what we ask? IPOB and ESN have no dealings with such evil activities of these criminals who are now on the ESN watchlist. Be warned and stop giving them money in the name of ESN or IPOB volunteers.”
Eguavoen Will Only Earn Bonus, Won’t Earn Salary, Says NFF
Interim coach Austin Eguavoen will be entitled to only win bonuses as the Super Eagles gaffer at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Eguavoen was appointed on a short-term deal after the Nigeria Football Federation sacked Gernot Rohr in December.
Rohr was Nigeria’s longest-serving manager after taking charge in August 2016, but had his contract terminated after leading the Eagles to the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-offs and sealing a spot at the Nations Cup in Cameroon.
The Franco-German also led Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup and guided the team to third-place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
“Eguavoen is on the payroll of the NFF and he won’t be entitled to salary for the role he is playing as an interim coach of the team,” President of the NFF Amaju Pinnick stated recently on Arise TV.
“He will be entitled to the winning bonuses as the team progress at the tournament.”
Eguavoen has already won his opening two group games at the tournament which has sealed their place in the round of 16 in the competition