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Tundun Bari Drone Attack: CHRICED Calls for Transparency and Accountability



– Says Tackling Corruption in Defense Spending Critical To Preventing Future Occurence

The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) is much dismayed by the recent “accidental” killing of innocent villagers in Tudun Bari Village in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Despite the Army taking responsibility and acknowledging that their drones were responsible for the tragic attack, it is crucial to thoroughly investigate both the remote and immediate factors that led to the misfiring of the drone and the resulting loss of lives.

The findings of this investigation must be made public and implemented decisively. Given the ethno-religious interpretations that have emerged following the incident, the best way to address concerns is to promptly launch a probe that will uncover the exact circumstances behind the accidental attack.

Whether it was an intelligence failure or a technical issue with the weapons system, the public has the right to know. This level of transparency and accountability will help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

The top hierarchy of the military cannot simply claim that the tragic attack was unintentional; they must take further action to fully disclose how the error occurred. This was not done in previous instances where similar mistakes resulted in the loss of many lives.

CHRICED believes that without accountability and transparency regarding the Tudun Bari incident, the underlying issues behind these errors will never be addressed, making it difficult to convince the public that the attacks were not deliberate.

According to Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution, every Nigerian has the right to life. Therefore, it is no longer acceptable for military operations, which have repeatedly caused innocent citizens to lose their lives, to go without proper investigation, consequence and adequate compensation for the victims and their families.

CHRICED similarly notes the ad hoc gesture of the Senate, which has reportedly donated its December salaries to the victims in Tudun Bari. Although this gesture would typically be commendable, it appears to be merely symbolic as it does not match the magnitude of the tragedy.

Therefore, for the victims of Tudun Bari to receive justice, it is crucial to conduct a thorough investigation and document all individuals and families who have been affected. Additionally, an emergency response plan should be implemented, which includes various psycho-social support measures such as a hotline to locate missing persons.

Furthermore, it is essential to determine appropriate compensation for each individual and their families who have been impacted. More injury is added to the pains of the victims, if the salary donors merely lump the people together and dole out handouts in response to such a colossal waste of hundreds of human lives.

The other dimension of the Tudun Bari tragedy is the need to keep a close eye on the role of corruption in defense expenditures and outcomes. Several learned findings by civic think tanks have shown that corruption in the defence sector, in particular, has resulted in the waste of billions of dollars’ worth of public funds through corrupt defence procurement practices and the abuse of the opaque security funding system known as “security votes”.

Civil society groups have variously drawn attention to how public funds, which could have been otherwise more productively directed towards countering security threats and building a modern and efficient defense force, are lost to shady deals.

A report by the Transparency International Defense Sector project in collaboration with leading Nigerian organization, CISLAC notes that “Corruption within the Nigeria defense sector arguably inhibited the ability of Nigerian armed forces to effectively tackle the insurgent threat in the North-east as well as respond to the oil bunkering in the Niger Delta, the conflict in the Middle Belt and the threat of maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea – reports of ghost soldiers, the skimming of soldiers’ salaries, and the procurement of faulty and outdated weaponry suggest misconduct within the armed forces that affected operational effectiveness.”

Given the fact that it is not the first time such an error leading to avoidable losses in human lives has been made, CHRICED reiterates the need for wider investigation to be undertaken. At the core of such investigation is the need for a comprehensive audit of the procurement processes in the military, and what outcomes they produce.

Apart from accidental strikes, there have also been many cases of malfunctioning weapon systems and the crash of military aircrafts. Any close observer of the situation should be interested in how these equipment are procured, and why they keep malfunctioning to the detriment of Nigeria’s national security. More importantly, the government should provide support and compensate all the families affected by the accidental killing in Tudun Bari.

Those affected by previous cases of accidental strikes by the military, which have been swept under the carpet in the past should also be documented and compensated. That is the only way justice can be done and be seen to be done.


*Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi*
_Executive Director_

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