The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed shock at the accidental bombing of an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Rann, Kala-Balge local government area of Borno state.
According to Naij report, In a statement released on Thursday, January 19, the opposition party described the incident as ‘unacceptable’ and demanded an investigation into the bombing that claimed between 76 and 100 lives and injured another over 100.
The statement read: “We are shocked and totally dismayed at the news of the accidental bombing of Rann Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in Kala-Balge Local Government Area of Borno State by the Military leading to the death of over 52 and more than 120 injured persons in the Camp . This is totally unacceptable and we demand a thorough and independent investigation into the matter to unravel the mystery behind the Accident.
“The excuse by the Nigerian Military that the Camp was mistaken to be a gathering of Boko Haram members is a show of unprofessionalism and lack of intelligence regarding operations of such magnitude. We are very worried that the Military after several successes against the Sect in recent times will display such provocative conduct capable of rubbing-off on its past achievements as a professional organization.
“Nigerians will recall our earlier warnings to the Military not to allow itself to be used by the Ruling Party, the APC as a propaganda machine. We had also warned the Military to remain resolute in its duty as a body constituted by law to defend the territorial integrity of the Nigerian State but not an arm of the Ruling Party.
“The Military must excuse itself from the Ruling Party’s propaganda and deceit of scoring cheap political points and concentrate more on the job of really wiping off the insurgency in the North-East and to eliminate threat in all regions of the Country.
Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, on Wednesday, January 18, has spoken on the accidental bombing of several people in a Rann camp for Internally Displace Persons IDPs in Borno. The governor said the Tuesday, January 17, accidental bombing of a civilian population in his state was not unique.
The governor who made this comment when the federal government delegation paid him a sympathy visit at the Government House Maiduguri, said though the state was grieved by the “unfortunate incident”, his government still remains grateful to the soldiers for the role they have played so far in securing Borno from Boko Haram.
He said: “The incidence of friendly fire is as old as the history of mankind. They constituted up to 5 to 20 per cent of all casualties in war. From the war of the Rose of 1471 to the English civil war of 1643, to the Napoleonic wars, to the American war of independence down to the first and second world wars, such incidences like people dying out of friendly firing were very rampant.
“On 3rd May 1945, the RAF fighter pilot attacked three German ships; and unknown to the pilot, those German ships were carrying concentration camp survivors and allied prisoners of war. Ten thousand people perished in that attack alone. And even very recently, there was an incidence in Afghanistan where United States fighter pilots attacked a hospital…killing 25 persons including women and children. So also in Syria when a coalition air strike attacked a wedding convoy killing 25 people; was the case in Iraq.
“We are not justifying the sad incident of Tuesday; but we are going down memory to show the world that such incident usually occurs in times of war.”
The governor said rather than getting angry with the soldiers for what happened, he was happy with the soldiers’ uncommon candour by coming out on time to tell the world the truth about the incident.
The governor said: “We have to commend the military for the way and manner they managed the incident.
“As bad as the incident was, nobody tried to hide it, nobody tried to sweep it under the carpet. We have to commend the Nigerian armed forces for the forthrightness they displayed by coming out and telling the world exactly what happened. If not for what they did yesterday (Tuesday), people would have resort to the blame game and name-calling; some may even accuse me Kashim Shettima of planting the bomb in Rann to kill his own people.
“And for us in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, we cannot but thank the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for all the support he has given us. Three years ago, Maiduguri was effectively in a circle, you can’t go beyond ten kilometres away from each entrance to the city. The only accessible road was the Maiduguri-Kano road, which was also haunted by incessant attacks by Boko Haram.
“So we in the north-east remain eternally grateful to the government of Muhammadu Buhari for reclaiming our land and for returning peace to us.”
Shettima sad Boko Haram have been degraded and no longer pose a threat.
“Once in a while they may have planted bomb in the streets to attack innocent people; but believe me, we have crossed the Rubicon and the worst is over.”
Earlier, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, who led the delegation of ministers and service chiefs, had condoled the state government and victims’ families over the incident.
He said the federal government would double its commitment to see that the insurgency comes to an end and displaced persons are moved out of the IDP camp back to their respective communities.
Kyari said: “The President and C-in-C is very distressed about the incident, and has instructed us to embark on this condolence visit. This kind of incident happens occasionally in war, especially when dealing with terrorists like Boko Haram who arbitrarily and in cowardly fashion hide among civilians.
“The President deeply regrets the incident. The Armed forces will take extra care to ensure this doesn’t happen again. The Federal Government is working with the State, Local, and International partners to ensure speedy resettlement of IDPs.”
Mr. Kyari visited the office of the International Red Cross, ICRC, and Doctors without Borders, MSF, who lost some officials to the Tuesday bombing.
The delegation also visited the Maiduguri specialists hospital to see some of the injured survivors that were brought in from Rann by ICRC helicopters.
At the hospital, the Chief Medical Officer, Kwaya Bura, informed the delegation that 54 injured persons were flown in from Rann and most of them were children.
The Nation reports that a source close to the intelligence community who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the accidental bombing was due to information provided by a foreign country that has been helping in the fight against terrorism.
The source also said there was no synergy of information between the military, emergency management authority and the Borno state government.
According to survivors of the IDP camp bombing, it was not a mistake as the Nigerian army claims. One of the survivors while recounting the ordeal says they were bombed three times.
Abdulwahab Adam, a survivor said: “The bombs were dropped on us thrice and there was no way a mistake could be made thrice. There was nothing accidental about the attack and it could not be referred to as a mistake.
“The federal government should stop telling Nigerians that it was a mistake; for this was not. It was nothing but an unprovoked attack on a civilian populace.”
“This was not a new camp and the attack happened when people queued up to receive humanitarian materials.”
According to Punch, another survivor, Abba Yusuf said the Nigeria Air Force must explain what really happened, saying:
“This is the same force that told the world that they did not drop the bomb on insurgents in the Sambisa Forest because of human shield but weeks later, dropped bombs on unarmed civilians in an IDPs’ camp.
“Could they have been blindfolded to know that we were in a queue and we were unarmed or could they have mistaken the IDPs camp for the haven of insurgents?”
Also, one of the people, who trooped to the hospital to visit their relatives who sustained injuries in the attack, Yakubu Hassan, said: “This is really unfortunate. I came to the hospital to get information about my brother, Babangida Hassan, only to be told that he was killed in the attack.”
Meanwhile, the federal government sent a delegation, led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari, which included: Retired Brig. Gen. Mansur Dan Ali (Defence); and Alhaji Lai Mohammed (Information and Culture).Others like: the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
Alhaji Kyari said: “We are in Maiduguri at the instance of President Buhari to come over and condole with the people and government of Borno State over the unfortunate air strike that took place at Rann town’s IDP Camp on Tuesday, leaving many innocent people dead and others wounded.”
He assured the people that the Nigerian Armed forces would ensure that such incidents did not occur again.
However, there are emerging reports that a foreign country provided false intelligence to Nigeria on the location of Boko Haram terrorists leading to the accidental bombing of an IDP camp.