We deplore yesterday’s airstrike in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria, that reportedly left at least 80 civilians dead and more than 60 injured – the latest of at least four airstrikes that have resulted in significant civilian fatalities since 2017. While we note that the authorities have termed the civilian deaths as accidental, we call on them to take all feasible steps in future to ensure civilians and civilian infrastructure are protected consistent with Nigeria’s international law obligations.
They must review rules of engagement and standard operating procedures to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.
We are particularly alarmed by reports that the strike was based on the “pattern of activities” of those at the scene which was wrongly analyzed and misinterpreted. There are serious concerns as to whether so-called “pattern of life” strikes sufficiently comply with international law.
In January this year, at least 39 civilians were killed in an air strike on Rukubi village in central Nasarawa state, and at least 64 civilians were killed when the air force struck a village in the north-western Zamfara State in December 2022. In September 2021, at least nine people died following an air strike on Buwari village in Yobe State, three of them children. And in January 2017, an air force jet bombed Rann village in Borno state, leaving 115 dead and more than 100 with injuries.
We urge the Nigerian authorities to thoroughly and impartially investigate all alleged violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, including deaths and injuries from air force strikes, and hold those found responsible to account. The Government should also provide victims of any unlawful strikes and their families with adequate reparations.