Bombing of the Rann IDP Camp: Issues & Matters Arising! – Ishola Adebayo

January 26, 2017

It is even logical to a visually impaired person that a 10 year old can’t handle the steering of a car. In actual fact, 10 year olds are given toy cars or better still, taken to an amusement park for those whose parents can afford. Giving a 10 year the opportunity to drive a big wheel is akin to declaring a period of mourning for his/her family members. In practical sense, one should be giving responsibilities that he/she can handle. Once there is the inability to communicate and familiarize with tools, it ends in disaster.

As usual, Nigeria was thrown into a situation of mourning few days ago. Citizens in the Northeastern part of the country were killed again, this time by men of the Nigerian Air Force. A military plane “mistakenly” bombed Rann IDPs Camp in Borno State, killing a lot of arm-less civilians. In other news, survivors of the attack said the bomb was “dropped’ three times.

As expected, reactions trailed the incidence which drew attention from people all over the world, including Nigerians too. Not to think of the fact that the victims were persons who escaped death from the Boko Haram terrorists and were also camped in a location as a result of the insurgence. Apart from those killed, aid workers, volunteers and more than 200 IDPs were injured. The military high command took responsibility for the accidental air strike and apologized. However, the incident raises a fundamental question over the Air Force’s inability to differentiate IDPs camp from that of insurgent territories.

The President, in solidarity, cancelled the federal executive council weekly meeting that was scheduled to hold the next day and he also designated a high level team made up of Ministers and top government functionaries to Maiduguri on a condolence visit. Without any form of sentiments, we should appraise the Nigerian government for the efforts it is making in ensuring that civilians are secured or at least in its provision for affected persons. However, it is so pitiable and pathetic to note that these people fled their homes in order to avoid being killed and still ended up facing something as terrifying as this. Many of the people in the IDP camp have a look of dejection on their faces as a result of the loss of their loved ones to the insurgence.

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t be much political about this matter, also not erasing the possibility of politics in the incident. For God’s sake this is human lives we are talking about, why should we actually play political cheese with human lives? No wonder Nigerians called upon the House of Representative committee that was set up to critically investigate this matter.

A point worthy of note is the fact that some of these dignitaries and security chiefs actually went to visit the Governor of Borno State. There is nothing bad though, he is the chief security officer of the state but then, his family was not involved in the unfortunate incidence. Their sincerity should have been well channeled to visiting the survivors and injured ones who are in the hospitals and even the others that are still in the camp. If most of these political leaders are sincere, why make the visit to the Governor a priority which has the guarantee of a “transport fare”? It is just quite unfortunate that these IDPs ran from their enemy and died in the hands of perceived “friends”.

While sympathizing with the affected victims, we cannot but chastise the military arm that carried out this attack. Quite alarming, the Military sent its deep regrets immediately after the incidence; their sorry shouldn’t cover up for the costly mistake.

For a while, people have been commending men of the armed forces for the wonderful job they are doing to curb the insurgence, a little miscalculation shouldn’t de-reap their efforts so far. Information circulated in recent time 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. This same foreign country has been giving credible disclosures before now in fighting these terrorists especially the Operation Lafiya Dole.

According to sources, surveillance mistakenly picked the IDP camp as a result of the fact that the camp was just formed without updating it on the list of IDP camps with the military. With this, we must recognize that communication is key in combating the dreaded Boko Haram sect. The Military, the Borno state government, the Federal government, International organizations and other relevant agencies must develop a stringent, proper and secure framework of communication in order to forestall future occurrences because they are the only trusted entities these people have. Human life’s they say is sacred.

Again, we assume that the incidence was mistakenly carried out and the men of the armed forces are working hard to end insurgence in the nation, we however commend the probe of the operation by the Nigerian Armed Forces. To be fair, some people will have to pay for this to prevent future reoccurrence. The Nigerian Armed Forces are known for professionalism and they should ensure they totally continue with that culture. Nigerians should shy away from all forms of political, ethnical and religious sentiments as this is a trying period for our country.

Lastly, we urge all concerned authorities to take necessary precautionary measures and ensure that everything humanly possible is done to save the lives of those on the danger list.