Beyond visitations to bomb victims

The need for enhancing nations’ capacity in maintaining territorial integrity and national security necessitated researches that birthed modern technology that has made professionalism second to none in the art of warfare. Failure to properly bridge the gap occasioned by this development in Nigerian military operations seems to be responsible for the rain of erroneous bombings in the quest to sanitise and free the country from the unscrupulous elements threatening her soul.

While on a routine operation against the terrorists on 3rd December, 2023, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) erroneously dropped bombs on the civilians celebrating Maulud at Tudun Biri, Igabi local government area of Kaduna state. This mishap led to the death of more than 85 people and turned the atmosphere of joy to mourning with sympathisers trooping to the community to console the relatives of the victims, communicate the message of hope to those that are still alive, and reiterated the determination of the government to prevent its reoccurrence.

However, beyond the visitations and promises lies the commitment to fulfilment which has always been the complaints of the victims and the reasons for the recurrence of the avoidable situation. Data from SBM Intelligence in February, 2023, shows that over 300 people have been killed in NAF’s accidental airstrikes since 2017. This has increased in the last two years especially, in Niger, Yobe, Kaduna and Zamfara states.

For instance, in 2017, about 52 people were killed while 120 others sustained injuries in an accidental airstrike on an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Rann, Borno state. Similarly, on 13th April, 2020, more than 17 people, including children, were killed after a NAF fighter jet bombed Sakotoku village in Damboa LGA of the state.

Also, seven people, mostly children, died in a miscalculated bombing carried out by the NAF at Kurebe village in Shiroro LGA of Niger state in April 2022, Safana LGA of Katsina state in June 2022, Doma LGA of Nasarawa states in 2023, to mention but few. Yet, the experiences and narratives of most of the victims show that they were not adequately compensated despite promises by the government to compensate them.

Recently, some of the residents at Buhari village erroneously bombed on 15th September, 2021, at Yunusari LGA of Yobe state, were reportedly lamenting the failure of the government to fulfill the promises to compensate the victims in 2021. In fact, some claimed that they were only given N10,000 as compensation despite the promises by the government on compensation and neither has anyone been punished for the bombing. This failure has further dented the image of government and raises questions on the sincerity of the government officials in the utilisation of the fund set aside for military spending in the budget over the years.

A scrutiny of the Nigerian budget over the years shows that there is a progressive increment in military spending with little improvement in the gain made in military operations. In 2020, Nigerian military spending was $2.57 billion, a 38.04% increase from $1.86 billion in 2019, 2021 was $4.47 billion, a 73.93% increase from 2020, to the increased by 46% from $2.8 billion military spending in 2023 budget to the $4 billion allocated for defense in the 2024 budget presented by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in November; the largest single allocation to any sector in 2024 budget. Despite this amount of money, reports of criminal attacks continue to increase in the dailies.

This can be deduced from the multidimensional manifestation and expansion in the networks and operation of criminal elements masquerading as terrorists, bandits, kidnappers across the country. In the North-east, these criminal elements seem to be masquerading as Boko Haram while in the North-west they are taking the shape of bandits and in the North-central taking they are killer herdsmen, etc.

Although, on several occasions Nigeria as the giant of Africa has demonstrated high level of professionalism both in Nigeria and beyond, however, the inability to totally defeat the terrorists in the North-east since 2009, seems to suggest that there is need for more training and modern equipment for the Nigerian military. 

This is more worrisome with the increase in the bombing mishaps that have sent many civilians to early grave and revelations that suggest the presence of high level corruption in the system. Of recent, the ICPC arrested a military contractor that received over a period of less than 10 years cumulative N6 billion from the Nigerian Army in suspicious circumstances and in violation of extant legislation.

Some former military and security personnel were reportedly being investigated by ICPC and her sister agency for embezzling funds allocated to security. This is besides the syndrome of reselling of arms bought for the purpose of fighting insurgency to elements outside the military. For example, a former head of one of the arms of the military in the twilight of his tenure deposited N4 billion from the military budget into the accounts of two companies where he is the beneficial owner and sole signatory. Although, it is very difficult to fight terrorists without collateral damages but with sophisticated weapon and high tech military wares, the damages can be reduced. 

That is why the government needs to set up team(s) that will take proper audit of the money disbursed since the beginning of the war against terrorist groups in 2009, identify areas of linkages, come up with recommendations that can stop the stream of corruption in the system, increase training for military personnel at the theater of war and adequately compensate the victims of the erroneous bombing so that collateral damages can be reduced to the level it longer pushes the victims and their relatives to the side of the terrorist groups in the name of seeking revenge.

Oluwasanmi writes from 


Osun state.