A recent devastating airstrike on Tundun Biri in Kaduna State during Maulud celebrations has ignited a heated dispute among Nigerian military personnel, stirring concerns over coordination and operational decisions within the armed forces.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) officers who spoke to Bellnews on the condition of anonymity expressed dismay and frustration over the aerial attack carried out by the Nigerian Army, resulting in over 120 reported deaths and more than 60 injuries.
NAF officers emphasised their superior training and equipment for precision air operations, highlighting their expertise in handling drones and attack helicopters compared to other military services.
“Every service or security agency has its dedicated role(s) even though all of us underwent the same training. The truth is, air troops are more conversant with air operations than any other troops whether in flying of drones or attack helicopters”, one of the NAF officers said.
However, some army officers downplayed the gravity of the situation, asserting their competence in drone operations despite the catastrophic mistake during the Maulud celebration airstrikes.
“The fact that we made a mistake this time around doesn’t mean we are not capable of flying a drone against enemies. We’re capable, and we have the capabilities to fly it,” an army officer said.
A source familiar with Army and Air Force officials revealed a significant lack of coordination between the two services, indicating that the tragic incident might have been avoided.
Allegedly, before the bombing, Air Force officials cautioned their army counterparts about the gathering, noting that it did not resemble a gathering of terrorists.
“Before dropping the bomb on the Maulud celebrants, some army officials actually hinted at some air force officials, and they were cautioned on the grounds that the gathering did not seem to be that of terrorists.
“They told them (Army) that terrorists don’t converge in large numbers within a community. Also, wherever you see terrorists or bandits coming together, you will see many motorcycles. There were no motorcycles at the site of the Maulud on that day…It was really unfortunate,” a source said.
This incident has sparked discussions about the need for better inter-agency collaboration and communication within the Nigerian military.