By Joseph Erunke
THE Defence Headquarters, yesterday,attributed the January 17,2017, erroneous airstrike of Internally Displaced Persons , IDPS, near the Camp at Rann in Kala-Balge Local Government Area, Borno State, by the Nigerian Air Force, to lack of appropriate marking of the area, near the camp where the IDPs were struck.
It said the location was not reflected in the operational map as a humanitarian base.
The DHQ said since the normal pattern for Boko Haram terrorists to form up, before attacking innocent civilians and troops is to amass, the event camp which it noted,was not captured in the humanitarian map,was mistaken as a Boko Haram terrorists settlement.
Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche,who addressed the media,in Abuja,said the air strike on the IDPs was a mistake.
”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.
“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,”Enenche explained.
According to him,”when mass movement was noticed through aerial satellite observation, it was taken for Boko Haram Terrorists activity, which needed to be neutralized with speed.”
He said in order to forestall the ugly development, the committee which probed the incident recommended that henceforth:”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.”
”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 committee, according to him, also advised.
Recall that following the incident,the Defence Headquarters had 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.
Enenche said ”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,” he added
Also speaking on the 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, Enenche said the probe panel set up by the DHQ over the incident discovered that it was caused by an avoidable misunderstanding from exchange of words and later physical confrontation.
The committee, according to him, made some findings and came up with recommendations, to forestall future occurrences.
The recommendations,he explained were that:”Strict centralized operational and administrative control should be exercised, on all security agencies serving under Operation Lafiya Dole;Offenders in the incident are to be sanctioned appropriately, to serve as deterrence to other personnel in the Theatre of operation and the outcome of all disciplinary action, should be communicated to other parties.”
On the clash between the Nigerian Navy and Police personnel in Calabar on 30 May, 2017, that led to the death of two policemen and shooting of a naval personnel, Enenche said investigation into the act showed that it was a misunderstanding between a naval rating and a policeman that escalated , leading to the incident.
”It was found that, the immediate cause was a misunderstanding between a naval rating and a policeman that escalated.
”The incident equally resulted in the destruction of properties,”Enenche said.
According to him,to forestall future occurrence of such nature, the probe panel recommended that:”The Nigerian Navy and Police, should institute further investigation to identify erring personnel for sanctions and Security services should periodically remind their personnel to always comply with standing regulations, at all times and places.”
He urged all Nigerians and the general public to continue to support the Armed Forces of Nigeria to tackle security challenges, while the troops remain committed to carrying out their roles professionally.