Christian leaders are concerned by the presence of unexploded bombs in their communities. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

Three months after at least 35 deaths were attributed to the Nigerian Air Force following its bombardment of six Christian communities in north-eastern Adamawa State, community leaders have expressed concern at the discovery of unexploded bombs.

The bombs were found in the village of Shaforon and community leaders say they are concerned that more may be buried within their villages, which could pose a lethal threat to farmers if undetected.

“It is important that steps are taken to conduct [an aerial survey of these communities and identify where the remnants of the bombs are and safety evacuate and detonate them,” one of the community leaders, Prof. Wonotazakan Tagowa, said at a press conference on Wednesday, 14 March, which World Watch Monitor attended.

“Our communities are farming communities and they may step on these things and be killed by them,” he added. “We have found some before and have reported to the relevant authorities, who came and detonated them.”

Another leader, Lawrence Jocthan, added: “The presence of rockets and explosives shows [the Nigerian Air Force] used excessive and unlawful force against our people.

“We are therefore showing Nigerians and the international community that just as Amnesty International reported, there [is] credible evidence that [the] raids on our villages had disastrous consequences and those raids were genocidal and constitute a crime against humanity.”

The six villages – Lawaru, Dong, Nzoruwe, Pulum, Kodomti and Shaforon, in the Demsa and Numan Local Government Areas of Adamawa State – allege that the Nigerian Air Force was “complicit” in the massacre of at least 86 people, as they fired rockets at villages where Fulani herdsmen were attacking Christians on 4 December 2017.

In a statement last week, the Christian communities accused the Air Force of “clear human rights abuses” amounting to “genocide” and of aiding the herdsmen in killing, destroying homes and displacing many, including women and children, from their ancestral homes.

They also announced their intention to take the national Air Force to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Violence blamed on illegal weapons

The Adamawa Police Command yesterday (15 March) convened a one-day workshop in Yola, the state capital, to discuss how to stop the proliferation of illegal weapons in the state.

The State Police Commissioner, Abdullahi Ibrahim Yerima, said the weapons were one of the chief contributors to the ongoing violence blamed on Fulani herdsmen and announced that anybody in possession of illegal firearms must surrender them within 14 days or face prosecution.

“The Police will not hesitate to apply the full weight of the law on any individual or group under any guise whose conduct run contrary to the law of the land,” he said.

One of the participants at the workshop, Honourable Hassan Turaki, a former Speaker of the Adamawa State Assembly, urged the police to encourage Nigerians to alert police whenever they are aware of the presence of illegal firearms in their communities.

Violence attributed to Fulani herdsmen has persists unabated in central and north-eastern states. The attacks are carried out on an almost daily basis and have claimed scores of lives in the first few months of this year alone.

President Muhammadu Buhari – accused of not doing enough to curb the violence – has visited various states affected by recent violence, including Plateau and Benue, but it has had little effect.