Bombed IDP Camp: NAF Pilot Under Protective Care

Amos Esele

Following the public outcry against the ‘accidental’ bombing of an Internally Displaced Persons camp in Rann, Borno State, leading to the death of over 54 persons, and injury of 122 others, the military has swung into action with its own probe ahead of the 10-man panel constituted by the House of Representatives Wednesday, to look into the remote causes of the air disaster.

Investigation shows that the pilot who flew the NAF aircraft has been put under protective care, a military parlance for investigation of the mishap.

A dependable military source that spoke to this paper said the action is to make for thorough investigation before other ‘extraneous influences hamper comprehensive investigation’

Areas to look into, according to the source, include what the pilot observed before he released the bombs, who gave the final order for the release of the bombs, what was the record of the pilot’s movement before he flew the aircraft.

Ruling out sabotage, the source drew on a similar situation during the Liberia civil war in the 90s when a Nigerian pilot with the ECOMOG avoided bombing civilian and military targets just by flying low to ascertain the targets despite haven been giving orders.

Military spokespersons in Borno and Abuja were unreachable and this information could not be independently verified.

Still, the Theatre Commander of Nigerian forces in Borno, Major-Gen Lucky Irabor,  who confirmed the attack at a press conference Wednesday, said, in respect of orders.

“This morning today, we received reports about gathering of Boko Haram terrorists somewhere in Kala Balge Local Government area of Borno State. We got a coordinate and I directed that the air should go to address the problem.

“Unfortunately the strike was conducted but it turned out that the locals somewhere in Rann were affected.

In the meantime, Nigerians and international organizations have expressed concern over the mishap with some calling for a thorough investigation and others condemning the attack as a failure of professionalism on the part of the air force.

In its 10-man panel, the House of Representatives listed the membership to include committees on IDP, Refugees and Initiatives from the North East, the Air Force, Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Assistance, the Army and Health Services.

“There is need to ascertain whether the air strike was in accordance with observance of strict Rule of Engagement (ROE) under air law as enshrined under International Humanitarian Law, HIL, otherwise the Law of Armed Conflict” said

Sanni Zoro, Reps APC , Jigawa.

UN Humanitarian Air Service, the UNICEF have expressed concern and mobilized to the spot for assistance. Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has urged the military to conducts its affair with utmost care as the bombing rubs it od its professionalism.

Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose has commiserated with families of the victims of yesterday’s “accidental” air strike by men of the
Nigerian Air Force of ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ in the Rann Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Borno State.

The governor, who said it was strange that the military could “mistakenly” bomb an IDP camp that it created and aware of the location, called for thorough investigation by both the military
authority and the international community to ascertain what actually happened.

He chided President Muhammadu Buhari for jumping into conclusion that the air strike was a mistake, saying; “by saying it was accidental,
the President already foreclosed investigation, which he ought to have ordered before jumping into conclusion.”
In a release issued on Wednesday by the Special Assistant to the governor on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka,
Governor Fayose maintained that “it is obvious that the Federal Government is still deceiving Nigerians on its handling of the Boko Haram insurgency because it is strange that the same Boko Haram that they said had been defeated were the ones they claimed the military
wanted to attack with fighter jet.”