By Johnson Eyiangho
The Defence Headquarters has said that “lack of appropriate marking’’ caused the mistaken air strike by the Nigerian Air Force on Rann in Borno, where a number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were killed.
The incident occurred on Jan. 17 at Rann, headquarters of Kala Balge Local Government Area of the state.
Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, the Director Defence Information, who briefed newsmen on Friday on the outcome of the Board of Inquiry set up on the incident, also gave other causes of the incident.
He said that the bombing was carried out on the location because it was not “reflected in the operational map as a humanitarian base’’.
“The main reason that caused the unfortunate airstrike near the IDPs camp at Rann was lack of appropriate marking of the area near the camp where the IDPs were struck.
“Hitherto, people were not expected to amass at that location.
“The normal pattern for Boko Haram Terrorists to form up before attacking innocent civilians and troops is to amass.
“Hence, it appeared as a place that could equally be used for enemy activities.
“Thus, when mass movement was noticed through aerial satellite observation, it was taken for Boko Haram terrorists’ activity, which needed to be neutralised with speed,’’ Enenche said.
He said that to avert future occurrence, “all locations where humanitarian activities take place in the theatre of operation would be marked appropriately for ground and aerial identification in line with international best practices.’’
According to him, other recommendations by the board to avert such incident is the geographical and spatial coordinates of all areas of humanitarian activities within the theatre should be provided to the Theatre Command Headquarters.
“There should be timely and mandatory exchange of information between stakeholders, for all activities in the theatre of operation,’’ the director of defence information said.
On the clash between the army and police in Damaturu on April 11 in which one soldier and three policemen died, Enenche said the incident was caused by “avoidable misunderstanding from exchange of word.’’
He said seven other policemen sustained injuries in that incident.
He disclosed that the panel set up to look into the clash recommended that “strict centralised operational and administrative control should be exercised on all security agencies serving under Operation Lafiya Dole”.
Enenche said that another recommendation of the panel was that “offenders in the incident are to be sanctioned appropriately to serve as deterrence to other personnel in the theatre of operation.’’
“The outcome of all disciplinary actions should be communicated to other parties (Army and Police).’’
Speaking on the clash between the Nigerian Navy and Police personnel in Calabar on May 30, the DDI also attributed the cause to “misunderstanding.’’
He said while two policemen died in the incident, a naval rating was shot.
The spokesman said that both the navy and the police would further investigate the clash to identify erring personnel for sanctions.
He called on security services to periodically remind their personnel to always comply with standing regulations to avoid similar occurrence in future.
Enenche appealed to Nigerians to continue to support the armed forces to tackle security challenges confronting the nation. (NAN)