Rann Misfire: Air Force Panel Dialogues With Traumatised Survivors
The Nigerian Air Force investigative panel set up to over the misfiring incident by one of its jets has been having series of discussions with survivors of the incident.
This is because the affected population in Rann community, of Kalabalge Local Government in Borno state have been thrown into trauma, following the incident which left over 200 people dead.
While some of those affected by the misfire have been whisked away to Maiduguri, others with minor injuries are stabilizing back home.
But anytime an Air Force jet flies over the Rann airspace, there is panic and fear of the unknown, according to officials of the 3 Battalion operating in the area.
Civilian authorities, the Nigerian Army and the Air Force have been talking to them for confidence building.
The Commanding Officer of 3 Battalion, Colonel Patrick Omoke said: “There’s been some form of panic within the community.
“Even when we send for aggressor to come and check what’s happening around us, the moment it’s airborne everybody starts dispersing maybe as a result of shock from the event of January 17th.
“But we have been doing a lot of talking to them through the community leaders, explaining to them that it was an accident and we are the ones sending for them now to come and survey and make sure that we are safe.”
Some of the locals confirmed the words of the Commanding Officer, confessing their feeling of insecurity and fear of the unknown anytime an aircraft flies over the community.
One of the survivors, Bulama Malawa, told Channels TV: “I lost my wife and daughter to the bomb from the airplane and people were in pieces that day.
“Today when we see them coming, everyone looks for where to hide especially the children. We are lucky to be alive from the last time but so no one is taking chances.”
The AVM Bala-Ribah-led board has assured the villagers of the good intentions of the Nigerian Air Force and a thorough investigation.
Part of the terms of reference of the board is to investigate circumstances surrounding the operational error that killed over 200 civilians and two soldiers.
“In the Nigerian Air Force, be it accidents, incidents or whatever, we go very thorough in our investigations; reason being that the operations will be continuous and if there was a mistake whether systemic, whether it was from the machine or from the human being; we need to find out exactly what the problem was so that we can incorporate that in our local procedure or in the rules of engagement to forestall future occurrence,” he said.
The board also visited the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor, commending the Army for the show of solidarity when the error occurred.
General Irabor has also asked the Air Force Investigative Board to concentrate on detecting what went wrong and make recommendations on how future occurrences can be forestalled.
He said that the theatre command is also conducting independent investigation for record purposes.
There are about 23,000 men, women and children living in Rann, the headquarters of Kalabalge Local Government Area.
While the Doctors Without Borders (MSF), put the death toll at 90, the locals put the figure at over 200.
The Nigerian Airforce had admitted that the bombing was a mistake and apologised.