The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), through its Country Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Honourable Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, expresses deep shock over the large number of people from a Drone strike by Nigerian army in Northern Kaduna on 5 December 2023.
According to reports reaching the African Commission from various sources, at least 85 innocent lives, including women and children, lost their lives. This tragic event was reportedly occasioned in an operation by the Nigerian army meant to be targeting terrorist groups. While noting the acknowledgement by the Nigerian government that the incident was occasioned by mistake, the scale of loss of lives it resulted in is on the face of it disproportionately large and concerning.
The African Commission notes with concern that this is at least the fourth such airstrike since 2017 claiming significant number of civilian lives and recalls the statement it issued following similar tragic incident in Zamfara state in December 2022.
The African Commission stresses that Nigeria, as a State Party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (the African Charter), as part of its duty to respect and protect the human rights, including the right to life under Article 4, has legal obligation to observe the utmost precautions and care when undertaking such risky military operations. To this end, it is legally expected to adopt legislative and other measures necessary to prevent such tragic incidents from happening and to limit their scale and impact when they occur as well as to initiate the requisite administrative, institutional and accountability measures after such incident happens.
The African Commission therefore calls on the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ensure that:
1. Independent and transparent investigation is carried out into the circumstances leading to this latest incident Northern Kaduna;
2. Those responsible for the incident are held accountable and victims and facilities are provided with effective remedies and rehabilitation support
3. The standard operating procedures and the decision-making involved in the planning and execution of military operations specifically those involving air strikes are overhauled
The African Commission extends its solidarity to the families and victims of various incidents over the Drone attack and loss of lives in Northern Kaduna and expresses its support to the efforts of the Government and people of Nigeria in guaranteeing lasting peace, security and good leadership.
Done this 6 December, 2023
Honourable Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso,
Country Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Federal Republic of Nigeria