By NDAHI MARAMA
Maiduguri — Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume representing Southern Borno Senatorial District, yesterday, escaped death by the whiskers as a Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Jet allegedly mistook his convoy for those of Boko Haram terrorists and threw explosives at it.
NAF authorities, however, said that the jet mistakenly fired shots at Ndume’s convoy while on the pursuit of some Boko Haram suspects who were operating in the area at the time Ndume was passing.
Ndume was said to be returning from Gwoza Local Government where he had gone to sympathise with the people over ongoing killings in the area, when the incident happened.
Addressing newsmen at his Maiduguri residence, Ndume said he travelled to Gwoza to present a letter of appoinment to the Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Iddrisa Timta, who was to be upgraded as a first class emir as well as visit Arbaku, Ngoshe and other remote villages affected by Boko Haram attacks to condole with the victims, adding that he was surprised when he was attacked by an Air Force jet.
Ndume said, “I thank God for sparing my life as the jet which I suspected was on military operation against Boko Haram dropped four bombs on my convoy.
“I went to Gwoza. I notified the police and military authorities of my presence where they even assisted me with security cover, and when I finished with my mission at about 2:10pm, we started hearing explosions. Initially, I thought it was Boko Haram that wanted to attack me, but when we were thrown into confusion, the soldiers attached to my convoy rushed to me and said it was not Boko Haram, but rather, an Air Force jet that was dropping bombs. We had to run into a military base close to the scene of the incident and take cover.”
Ndume said he had reported the incident to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, who he further added, replied his text message thus, “I hope no life was lost.”
NAF’s Spokesman, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas said in Abuja yesterday that its jet was pursuing some Boko Haram suspects when it cited Ndume’s convoy and mistakenly fired some shots at it, and not bombs as alleged, describing the incident as unfortunate.
Speaking on telephone with Vanguard, the Director of Air Force Public Relations, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, denied allegations that Senator Ndume’s convoy was bombed.
Anas said that terrorists of the Boko Haram sect attacked the Army Barracks in Gwoza and made attempt to over run it, adding that during the pursuit of the terrorists, the jets flew low and opened fire on a set of vehicles, about five or more of them including Hilux vans that were carrying the terrorists…But because the aircraft could not ascertain those in the vehicles, no further action was taken. If Senator Ndume was in one of the vehicles, it is unfortunate but the fighter jets were not in a position to know the occupants of some of the vehicles who were fleeing,” Anas said.