Two Nigerian Soldiers Face Trial Over Drone Strike That Killed 85 Civilians

Two Nigerian soldiers will face a court martial over a drone strike that killed at least 85 civilians in Kaduna state on December 3, 2023. The military admitted to mistakenly identifying a religious gathering as an armed criminal gang, leading to the tragic error.

Ebenezer Mensah
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Two Nigerian Soldiers Face Trial Over Drone Strike That Killed 85 Civilians

Two Nigerian Soldiers Face Trial Over Drone Strike That Killed 85 Civilians

Two Nigerian soldiers will face a court martial over their alleged involvement in a deadly drone bombing that killed at least 85 civilians on December 3, 2023, in Kaduna state, Nigeria. The incident occurred during a Muslim religious celebration marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad in the village of Tudun Biri.

Why this matters: Theincident highlights the need for increased accountability and caution in the use of aerial strikes, particularly in regions with high civilian populations. It also underscores the importance of ensuring that military operations do not result in harm to non-combatants, which can have long-term consequences for regional stability and security.

Following an investigation, Nigerian military authorities announced that the two personnel will be subjected to military justice proceedings "for acts of omission or commission" related to the strike. Major General Edward Buba, spokesperson for Nigeria's Defense Headquarters, stated, "The military has conducted a painstaking investigation into the incident and has initiated disciplinary action against those culpable. Accordingly, the affected personnel are to face a court-martial for acts of omission or commission concerning the incident."

The military admitted that it had mistakenly identified the religious gathering as a group of armed criminal gangs, leading to the tragic error. In a statement, the Defense Headquarters apologized for the mistake, saying, "The strike should have never happened." They promised to take extra precautions in the future to ensure the safety of non-combatants.

Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu described theincident as"very unfortunate, disturbing, and painful" and ordered an immediate investigation in December. The United Nations human rights office condemned the drone strike, citing it as the latest of at least four airstrikes since 2017 that have caused significant civilian fatalities in Nigeria's northern region.

The Nigerian military frequently conducts air raids as part of its fight against extremist violence and rebel attacks in the country's north, which has been destabilized by such conflicts for over a decade. However, these airstrikes have resulted in the deaths of around 400 civilians since 2017, according to the Lagos-based SBM Intelligence security firm.

Human rights organizations have called for greater transparency and justice for the victims of these airstrikes. Anietie Ewang, a Nigerian researcher with Human Rights Watch, emphasized the need for a well-thought-out process to ensure accountability and justice for those affected. Ewang also urged the Nigerian military to provide more information on the investigation, compensate victims, and implement systems to prevent future incidents.

The December 3 drone bombing in Kaduna state, whichkilled at least 85 civiliansand injured dozens more, stands as one of the deadliest incidents involving civilian casualties as a result of Nigeria's military operations against armed groups. As the two soldiers face a court martial, the incident serves as a stark reminder of the need for increased caution and accountability in the use of aerial strikes to minimize the risk of civilian harm.

Key Takeaways

  • 2 Nigerian soldiers to face court martial over drone strike that killed 85 civilians.
  • Incident occurred during a Muslim religious celebration in Kaduna state, Nigeria.
  • Military admitted mistake, apologizing for identifying gathering as armed criminal gangs.
  • Since 2017, airstrikes have killed around 400 civilians in Nigeria's northern region.
  • Human rights groups call for greater transparency, justice, and accountability for victims.