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Shocking: In Final Report, Nigerian Military Clears Airmen Who Bombed Refugee Camp In Rann, Killing 115 Boko Haram Victims

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Simon is an investigative journalist and publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA L.L.C. based in Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.A. His twitter handle is @simonateba and his email is simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

The Nigerian military has cleared the airmen who bombed an internally displaced persons camp in Borno state in January, killing about 115 Boko Haram victims.

The tragic incident occurred on 17 January 2017, when a Nigerian Air Force jet mistakenly bombed an IDP camp near the Cameroonian border in Rann, Borno State.

The bombing left at least 115 people dead, including six Red Cross aid workers, and more than 100 injured.

In its final report just put out at a press briefing, the Nigerian Defence Headquarters said “the main reason that caused the unfortunate airstrike near the IDP 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. Furthermore, the location was not reflected in the operational map as a humanitarian base. 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 neutralized with speed”.

To prevent that from reoccurring, the military said, all locations where humanitarian activities take place in the Theatre of operation should be marked appropriately for ground and aerial identification in line with international best practices.

It said 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”.

At a press briefing, the military also released reports on two other incidents: the armed clash between some Nigerian Army and Police personnel in Damaturu, Yobe State, on 11 April 2017 and the clash between Nigerian Navy and Police personnel in Calabar, on 30 May 2017.

Read full statement below

DHQ Releases Report on Incidents Concerning Armed Forces

This is a briefing on three incidents of public interest concerning members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. These incidents were:

a. Erroneous airstrike of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) near the Camp at Rann in Kala-Balge Local Government Area, Borno State, on 17 January 2017, by the Nigerian Air Force.

b. Armed clash between some Nigerian Army and Police personnel in Damaturu, Yobe State, on 11 April 2017.

c. Clash between Nigerian Navy and Police personnel in Calabar, on 30 May 2017.

2. Consequently, the Defence Headquarters constituted Boards of Inquiry to investigate the incidents and come up with their reports. However, some of the Services and commands who were directly affected also constituted their Boards of Inquiry in line with service regulations. In all, Defence Headquarters was equally provided with the reports of all the other Boards constituted, to investigate the various incidents.

3. Going by the ethics and best military practices, all the reports were harnessed by a final Board at the Defence Headquarters, to have a clear picture of the incidents. Thereafter, comprehensive reports of each of the incidents were produced. Each covered the cause of incidents and recommendations among others. I will now highlight the aforementioned, against each incident.

4. The Bombing of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) near the Camp in Rann, on 17 January 2017.

a. Cause. The main reason that caused the unfortunate airstrike near the IDP 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. Furthermore, the location was not reflected in the operational map as a humanitarian base. 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 neutralized with speed.

b. Recommendations. The following were recommended, in order to avert future occurrences:

(1) All locations where humanitarian activities take place in the Theatre of operation should be marked appropriately for ground and aerial identification in line with international best practices.

(2) The geographical and spatial coordinates of all areas of humanitarian activities within the Theatre, should be provided to the Theatre Command Headquarters.

(3) There should be timely and mandatory exchange of information between stakeholders, for all activities in the Theatre of operation.

5. Armed Clash Between Nigerian Army Personnel and Police in Damaturu.

a. Cause. There was an armed clash between some Nigerian Army and Police personnel under Operation LAFIYA DOLE, in Damaturu on 11 April 2017, which led to the death of one soldier and 3 policemen, with 7 other policemen injured. It was caused by an avoidable misunderstanding from exchange of words and later physical confrontation. Hence, the constitution of the Board of Inquiry, which made some findings and came up with recommendations, to forestall future occurrences.

b. Recommendations.  It was recommended that:

(1) Strict centralized operational and administrative control should be exercised, on all security agencies serving under Operation LAFIYA DOLE.

(2) Offenders in the incident are to be sanctioned appropriately, to serve as deterrence to other personnel in the Theatre of operation.

(3) The outcome of all disciplinary action, should be communicated to other parties.

6. Clash Between Nigerian Navy and Police Personnel in Calabar.
a. Cause.  On 30 May 2017, there was a clash between personnel of the Nigerian Navy and Police in Calabar, that led to the death of 2 policemen and shooting of a naval personnel, which was investigated. The incident equally resulted in the destruction of properties. It was found that, the immediate cause was a misunderstanding between a naval rating and a policeman that escalated. Thus, recommendations were made to forestall future occurrences.

b. Recommendations.  It was recommended that:

(1) The Nigerian Navy and Police, should institute further investigation to identify erring personnel for sanctions.

(2) Security services should periodically remind their personnel to always comply with standing regulations, at all times and places.

All Nigerians and the general public are hereby requested to continue to support the Armed Forces of Nigeria to tackle security challenges, while the troops remain committed to carrying out its roles professionally.

Major General John Enenche
Director Defence Information

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