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Tudun Biri: One month after, residents await compensation, outcome of c’ttee reports

One month after the tragic error drone bombing that claimed over 100 lives from three communities in Tudun Biri village of Igabi LGA of Kaduna…

One month after the tragic error drone bombing that claimed over 100 lives from three communities in Tudun Biri village of Igabi LGA of Kaduna State, residents say they are still waiting to be compensated for their losses, and the reports and outcome of the various committees set up by governments at the different tiers.  

The drone bombing mistake, which occurred on Sunday, December 3, 2023, resulted in dozens of casualties and injuries to residents of Tudun Biri, Ugara and Sabon Gida after they converged at Tudun Biri to celebrate the Maulud.

The Nigerian Army which claimed responsibility for the deaths attributed the incident to a mistake.

Malam Bala Tudun Biri, a resident expressed the impact of the tragedy, saying they will remember it for generations.

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Reverend Musa Sa’idu of Nagarta Baptist Church, while speaking with Daily Trust, highlighted the unity between Muslim and Christian communities in coping with the grief of the incident.

Daily Trust reports that President Bola Ahmad Tinubu had directed a thorough investigation into the incident and called for calm while the authorities looked diligently into the mishap. 

The Director of Defence, Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, in his interaction with journalists three weeks ago, said two panels have been set up to investigate the error bombing.

He said apart from the panel of inquiry set up by the defence headquarters, the federal government was also investigating the incident. 

However, a former senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani, told Daily Trust that the establishment of an investigative panel was unnecessary in the first place as exposing the individuals responsible for the drone attack should be a straightforward process.

“I don’t think they need to waste so much time investigating this matter because it is very simple: a drone cannot operate itself; somebody has to operate it,” he said. 

 “And all we need is information on who actually operated this drone and who gave them the directives. The reason why we are infatuating ourselves with the investigation is that this is not the first time civilians have been killed in an operation like this, and nothing happened in the past.

 “If we want to prevent this from happening in the future, we actually emphasise the investigation, and the culprit has to be brought to justice. Why it is happening now is because when it was happening before, no one had ever said or done anything about it,” Shehu Sani said. 

He, however, acknowledged the efforts and sacrifices made by the Nigerian military, saying without them, many people wouldn’t be able to sleep in their houses.

“But a law has been broken; there is no law that permits anybody to launch an attack on civilian targets for any reason. Whether there is a terrorist there or there is a bandit there.

“The previous error attacks happened during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, so this is the first to happen in this administration. What we expect to see out of the investigative report is the reason behind the deployment of drones in Tudun Biri village. Secondly, the basis behind the drone bombing in Tudun Biri,” he said. 

As the investigation commences, the Chief Imam of Tudun Biri, Imam Hashim Jafar, told Daily Trust that a few days after the incident, a team of military officers visited and spent over five hours interviewing residents.

“They told us they came to do an investigation, and after they got all the data from our people, we are still waiting for the final report of the investigation. We told them we were eager to see the report and the subsequent actions planned by the federal government.” 

The Chief Imam emphasized that he urged the military officers to act with a sense of God-consciousness and produce a report that can be relied upon in this world and the hereafter. 

“We also let them know that the people of this village want justice. They want to see the culprits exposed and face the wrath of the law. They didn’t tell us when the report will be released but they said it will be soon because they know all eyes are on them.”

However, during an interactive session with journalists last Friday, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, while responding to a question about the release date of the investigative report, assured that any officer found guilty will face the appropriate punishment.

He explained that what could have contributed to the erroneous firing in the Tudun Biri incident was the attack on some soldiers who were killed in the general area and the military was tracking the terrorists who were moving on motorbikes.

“A lot of them crossed that area for that period, and there was some level of interaction with civilians,” he said.  

“The drone was actually following this movement; unfortunately, there is, I think, a mix-up with the movement. For now, since there is going to be an investigation, we equally want the investigation to bring out the facts,” he said.  

But community leaders in Tudun Biri fault this analogy saying the three communities affected by the drone incident had no presence of bandits or terrorists.

Malam Bello Tudun Biri told Daily Trust that “there are soldiers residing in close proximity who can attest to this fact. We have no room for terrorists and bandits. You can only hear about them when you go across the river, which is really far from the three villages.”  

Gigantic promises, donations

When the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, visited the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital in Kaduna State to commiserate with some victims of the drone incident in December, he hinted at a plan by the federal government to rebuild Tudun Biri village.

He said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed that the ‘Pullako Initiative’ be kicked off in Kaduna State with a complete package, including 500 houses in Tudun Biri, Ugara, and Sabon Gida with clinics, schools, roads, mosques, churches, veterinary clinics as well as empowerment initiatives, and solar energy, among others, as a way of compensating the people for the destruction caused by the drone bombing mistake. 

The Northern Governors’ Forum also contributed N180 million to support the victims after which several politicians visited Kaduna and made further donations to assist those affected by the tragedy.

In addition, the Northern Caucus in the House of Representatives donated N45 million to the victims and announced its intention to provide for various developmental projects ranging from the provision of health care facilities, blocks of classrooms, boreholes and a community town hall worth N350 million to support the federal government’s efforts in rebuilding the community. 

This happened after the leadership of the Nigerian Senate announced the donation of N109 million to the victims of the accidental bombing. 

However, when Daily Trust asked how far these projects have gone, the Chief Imam of Tudun Biri, Imam Hashim Jafar, said the federal government had dispatched road workers to initiate the preliminary planning and ground levelling of the road. However, the work has stopped, “possibly due to the Christmas and New Year holidays,” he said.

Again, Malam Bello Tudun Biri told Daily Trust that among all the promises made by the federal government, the only noticeable action is the commencement of the Tudun Biri road project.

Reverend Musa Sa’idu of Nagarta Baptist Church told our reporter that he recently observed the activities of road workers and bricklayers constructing the foundation of a hospital. However, he noted that the work came to a halt at a stage without any explanation.

He emphasized that the community members are patiently awaiting developments after the Christmas and New Year holidays. “This is not the time to start complaining; let’s wait and see after Christmas and the New Year break,” he said.   

Where is the money? 

Last Sunday, the Kaduna State Governor, Senator Uba Sani, inaugurated a special Tudun Biri Implementation and Monitoring Mechanism Committee to ensure accountability and fairness in the disbursement of all interventions. 

The governor said the committee will ensure funds are equitably distributed towards the rehabilitation of the survivors and families of those who lost their lives and property during the military drone bombing mistake. 

When contacted by Daily Trust yesterday, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Muhammad Lawan Shehu, said the function of the committee was to draw up modalities on how to expend the resources.

Regarding the total amount collected as donations, Muhammad Lawan Shehu stated, “We are yet to determine the actual amount realized. The committee has a set of tasks that involve assessing the funds collected and reaching out to individual donors to ensure they redeem their pledges.”

Lawan affirmed that all donations realized have been kept in the Kaduna State account, “and one kobo has not been touched.” He said all the medical bills and feeding for the victims are being covered by the Kaduna State treasury.

Auwal Shehu Ugara who lost his 17-year-old son, Mansur Auwal, in the drone mishap said he was still waiting to hear from the government regarding compensation. 

 “In Ugara village, the total number of deaths we have counted has reached 15 because one person died in the hospital while receiving treatment. We hope the government will fulfil all the promises it has made,” he said.


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