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ACF to Army Chief: N10m donation to Kaduna airstrike victims grossly inadequate

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has said that the N10 million donation given to the victims of the Tudun Biri bombing by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, was grossly inadequate.

The ACF in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Professor Tukur Muhammad-Baba, said the Federal Government, not the Nigerian Army ought to take responsibility for full compensation for deaths and injuries to victims.

The ACF further recommended that the General Officer Commanding of 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, along with his immediate subordinate officers should be redeployed to allow for unfettered investigations.

While ACF welcomed the visits by the Minister of Defence and COAS, it urged the latter, as a sign of good faith, to follow up with additional steps to ameliorate the pains and suffering of the community.

“ACF warmly welcomes the visit of the Minister of State (Defense) along with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and other top government officials to the Tudun Biri Community, on 6th December, 2023, where the delegation also attended the funeral rites of some of the 126 victims of the incident.

“The visit was very appropriate and gave the Federal Government as well as the Nigerian Army a needed human face. ACF considers the visit a welcome departure from earlier rather insipid response to the incident by officers of One Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna. Although ACF is not aware of specific words of apology from the Minister of State over the incident.

“Arguably, the visit was in itself an apology enough to the Tudun Biri community?
The COAS had announced a donation of N10 million to the community which ACF considers as grossly inadequate, firmly believing that it is the Federal Government, not the Nigerian Army, that should take responsibility for full compensation for deaths and injuries to victims arising from the incident. Still, ACF urges the Army Chief of Staff, as a sign of good faith, to follow up with additional steps to ameliorate the pains and suffering of the community,” the statement read in part.

ACF said it recognised sacrifices of the armed forces to totally exterminate banditry and terrorism in the nation, but caution the security agencies to always remember that they must remain accountable for their actions.

“Therefore, ACF is constrained to further recommend that the General Officer Commanding of 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, along with his immediate subordinate officers should be redeployed to allow for unfettered investigations.

“As a trite principle of justice, 1 Division of the Nigerian Army must not and should not be allowed to investigate itself. An independent panel of investigators is clearly indicated. Further, the results of the investigations must be made public, issues that border on national security considerations excepted.

“The Defence Headquarters should retract its needless statement. The Ministry of Defence, and the Armed Forces in particular, should take steps to ensure that such incidents are avoided or contained to the barest minimum humanly possible.

“The Federal Government must take responsibility for full compensation to all victims of Tudun Biri. The gesture should also be extended to victims from all previous such incidents. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the statement added.

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