Rann Misfire: Air Force Panel Dialogues With Traumatised Survivors

Rann Misfire: Air Force Panel Dialogues With Traumatised SurvivorsThe 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.

Officials Claim About 236 Killed In Rann Accidental Airstrike

rann bombing accidental airstrike by the Air force in BornoOfficials of Kalabalge Local Government Area (LGA) in Borno State have claimed that at least 236 died during the recent military operational error in Rann.

They have demanded compensation for survivors of the unfortunate mishap.

Kalabalge, one out of the 20 LGAs infiltrated by Boko Haram terrorists in the wake of the insurgency, is 170 kilometres away from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.

It was liberated eight months ago by troops with the support of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, who rescued thousands of hostages and opened up the town for humanitarian services.

Rann is home to the local government headquarters and to the affected population mostly from adjoining villages and hamlets, fleeing to safety under the case of the Three Battalion of the Nigerian Army until the airstrike that occurred on Tuesday, January 17.

However, the community residents and their leaders have accepted the tragedy in good fate, owing to past efforts of the military in liberating their town.

One of the residents told Channels Television’s crew that: “We just heard bombs exploding; an aeroplane dropped them.

“(The aircraft) passed then came back again and dropped it (and) all the houses went on fire. That was what happened. Those that died were buried, some were taken to Maiduguri in the planes they brought (while) those with minor injuries were treated here”.

They asked the Federal Government to compensate them for their huge loss and build roads that would link them to other parts of the state.

Video: Air Force Begins Aerial Patrol Of Sambisa, Southern Kaduna

234 People Buried

The Chairman of Kalabalge LGA, Mr Babagana Malarima, lamenting the volume of the destruction of lives and property, called for the Federal Government’s intervention by compensating the survivors.

“Our problem since this local government was created about 20 years now (is that) we need a road to link this headquarter to other parts of the state (while) the second thing is with what happened. Now, we are begging Mr President (Muhammadu Buhari) to compensate us.

“Many people have lost their loved (ones) as most of them are the bread winners. About 234 people is not a small number; we need to compensate these people. Yes! 234 (people were) buried by the community and it’s even more than this.

“The report I received from Maiduguri this morning (Saturday) is that two (persons) who are in the hospital have also died. Therefore we need to be compensated seriously. It was the market day yesterday, it was not like the normal market day. After all this is a place where our activities was on a skeletal basis but it was at the lowest ebb yesterday,” he told Channels Television.

A statement issued by the Borno State government on Friday also corroborated Mr Malarima’s claim that two injured persons have died.

The statement further revealed that five people have been discharged while 73 others were still hospitalised.

Earlier report had put the death toll at 52.

The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) had told Reuters that “at least 52 people were killed and 120 wounded”.

Repelled Boko Haram Attack

Barely two days after the accidental bombing, a group of Boko Haram insurgents reportedly launched an attack on the community, targeting both the traumatised civilians and the troops.

However, they were successfully repelled, with 15 terrorists killed and one captured alive with their arms and ammunition.

The captured, man who speaks neither of the local indigenous languages, is believed to be a Cameroonian.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, who has been talking to commanding officers, assured the people in the area that such mistake would not happen again.

Nigerian Army Recruits Over 5,000 Soldiers
Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai

“These are the terrorists that came to attack here (Rann community) yesterday almost around 6:00 PM on Thursday (but) they (the troops) were able to repel them. This is to show the level of alertness of the troops and the level of commitment for them to defend this community.

“Luckily when they came, they couldn’t succeed and the troops were able to repel them and pursue them far and you saw what they recovered (as) one of them was captured alive (with) their vehicle and the array of ammunition recovered from them.

“The intelligence information we got from our partners was that Boko Haram terrorists were moving into this place and indeed the information was that they are already in this place. It’s not unconnected because you saw them coming to attack them here.

“Probably it must be the information that was passed to the air component for them to take necessary action, (but) unfortunately a mistake happened. It has happened before in other places and we pray it doesn’t happen again,” the Army chief said.

Boko Haram: U.S. Lawmakers Okay Five-year Strategy To Assist Nigeria

Boko Haram, Islamic StateThe United States House of Representatives has passed a legislation directing the country’s Secretaries of State and Defence to jointly develop a five-year strategy to assist Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram.

The measure is also aimed at providing assistance to members of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and international partners offering support in counter-terrorism operations against the Boko Haram sect in the region.

According to reports, the legislation, passed by a voice vote, was introduced by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).

They expressed optimism that it would help combat Boko Haram specifically. The strategy is also aimed at addressing the crushing humanitarian and educational crises that Boko Haram had created.

“Boko Haram captured my attention and the headlines when the terrorist group kidnapped 276 Nigerian schoolgirls from their dormitory rooms 968 days ago. For most of the world, the Chibok girls symbolised the horror that is Boko Haram, but the damage its members have wrought goes far deeper,” Congresswoman Wilson, wa quoted as saying in a statement.

Collins, who authored and originally introduced the bill, averred that Boko Haram had pledged allegiance to ISIS and it continued to commit terrible acts of brutal violence against civilians in Nigeria as well as in Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.

Collins, describing Wilson as a willing and able partner in the effort to pass the bipartisan legislation, explained that it requires a five-year strategy to pursue Boko Haram and it would bolster efforts of the U.S. throughout the region.

Any support from the United States will be welcomed by the Nigerian government, even though heightened counter-terrorism operations have decimated the terrorists, who still carry out suicide attacks on soft targets.

The military said few days ago that it has commenced final rescue operations in Sambisa Forest, a safe haven for the terrorists that have forced over two million persons out of their homes in their over seven years push for an Islamic State and an end to Western education in the region.

 

End Of Boko Haram Is In Sight, Buhari Assures International Community

muhammadu-buhari-in-senegalNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday assured the international community that the end of Boko Haram terrorists is in sight.

President Buhari made the optimistic expression in Dakar, Senegal, even as he hailed the increased cooperation between Nigeria and its neighbours in the fight against terrorism.

Addressing audience at a Panel of Heads of State at the 3rd Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, the President also assured the international community that the security situation in Nigeria had improved significantly.

“About a month ago, I spoke with the President of Chad and I was pleased that a number of Chadians and Nigeriens that were Boko Haram members are surrendering to him en-masse. The good news I have is that the end of the raining season has come in the North eastern region of Nigeria.

“Members of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) are in their respective positions and at an agreed time they will move simultaneously and spontaneously for us to see the end of Boko Haram. We are now operating in the Sambisa Forest and as far as Boko Haram is concerned in the Lake Chad Basin area, I think they are done for,” the President declared.

Looking For Any Kind Of Job

Highlighting the gains of the cooperation among the Lake Chad Basin Commission countries comprising Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Benin Republic and Nigeria, the Nigerian leader told the gathering that Boko Haram is no longer holding any territory or Local Government Area (LGA) Nigeria.

“Those who live in the North East know that Boko Haram is no longer holding a single territory in the 774 LGAs in Nigeria. But they have a system of using IEDs and they indoctrinate mostly teenage girls and send them to soft targets to churches, mosques and market places. That too is becoming very rare.

“I think Boko Haram shot themselves in the foot when they gave their ideology a religious connotation by killing children in their schools, people in the mosque and churches and shouting Allahu Akbar.

“This is a major contradiction as no religion advocates hurting the innocent. You can’t kill people and say Allahu Akbar. You either do not know what you are saying or you don’t believe it,”’ President Buhari said.

Niger Republic, Boko Haram
Boko Haram has in the past seven years pushed for an Islamic State and an end to Western education in the northeast region

A statement by a spokesman for the President Buhari, Mr Garba Shehu, said the Nigerian leader emphasised that the oil-rich nation was capable of surmounting its security challenges and appealed to the international community to focus more attention on addressing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and unemployment in Nigeria.

“In the southern part of the country, stolen Nigerian crude is being illegally transported through the Gulf of Guinea and installations offshore are being subverted. We also have the problem of unemployment in Nigeria. With a population of 180 million people of which 65 per cent are under the age of 35, young Nigerians are looking for any kind of job to survive.

“We are addressing the situation (unemployment) by turning to agriculture and solid minerals because we are lucky to be blessed with arable land, water and resources,” the President noted.

Nigerian Navy Begins Full Counter-insurgency Operations In Lake Chad

Navy-boat-UgwuThe Nigerian Navy has commenced full operations on the Nigerian side of the general Lake Chad area to ensure it is totally liberated from Boko Haram.

Marine troops have been deployed to the area in line with presidential directives to give a boost to the war against insurgency in northeast Nigeria.

The Chief of Naval staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, announced the deployment during an interaction with commanders in the newly established area of Naval operations to appraise the situation on ground.

The Lake Chad area falls under Baga, a border local government in northern Borno State a notorious stronghold of the Boko Haram insurgents carrying out trans-border operations after sacking the fishing town of Baga.

Three years after a deadly massacre of an estimated 2,000 residents, Baga is still a ghost town, deserted by civilians and now home to the Multi-National joint Task Force fighters.

To fully free the area of terrorists, the Chief of Naval Staff said that the Nigerian Navy was joining forces with the ground and air troops.

He is hopeful that the collaboration will speed up the post conflict healing process in the area.

Government officials in Borno State are happy with the presidential directives, especially as Baga has the biggest fish market in the region and serves as an economic hub for the state.

Total liberation and revival of the area will pave way for a continuation of the suspended oil exploration around the lake Chad area.

Borno State Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa, expressed optimism that full restoration of peace in the area would improve economic activities and promote normal life.

The Naval Chief also held talks with the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole and other key stakeholders in Borno State.

They are brainstorming on how to achieve synergy and smooth running of the new operational base.

Joint Task Force In Clamp Down Operations Against Boko Haram

Lamidi-Adeosun-Major-GeneralThe Multi-National Joint Task Force is conducting series of military operations aimed at closing down the Boko Haram insurgents in the Lake Chad Basin.

Speaking to Channels Television in Abuja on Saturday, the force Commander, Major General Lamidi Adeosun, explained that the forces from the four states – Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic – were working together to ensure that peace returned to the region.

General Adeosun further stated that the force was fully equipped by the Lake Chad Basin countries, with Nigeria fulfilling her pledge of $100 million to the mission.

He said: “Multi-National Joint Task Force is conducting serious military operations in conjunction with all the countries that contributed troops for the force.

“Initially the operation has been on sectoral basis but now it is joint.

“The operation is a kind of final onslaught to actually clear the free corridor of movement of Boko Haram because initially there were not foothold in Damasak Gashiga and other areas.

“As it is now, troops are in Gudunbari”.


Military operations against Boko Haram terrorists received impetus few weeks before Nigeria’s 2015 general election, with the current administration sustaining the tempo to fulfil its campaign promise of ending the over six years insurgency.

Boko Haram terrorists have attacked communities in northeast Nigeria, as they push for an Islamic State and an end to Western education in the region.

Military onslaught against the group has forced them to fall back to suicide attacks on softspots in the area.

On Friday troops of the Joint Task Force clashed with suspected terrorists, killing 15 of the them.

Two soldiers died in that gun battle.

Nigerien Troops Withdraw From Damasak In Nigeria’s Borno State

Nigerian Troops withdraw from Damasak after clearing Boko HaramSoldiers from Niger Republic have withdrawn from Damasak, a boundary town in northern Borno State, one of the states lately terrorised by Boko Haram.

The withdrawal of soldiers followed recent recapture of the town, considered one of the last strongholds of the outlawed terrorist group by troops of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

Troops of the Sector 4 of the MNJTF, with headquarters in Diffa of Niger Republic had successfully cleared and occupied Dutse Village last month.

Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor, visited the recovered town enroute Mobbar to congratulate and address troops of the 145 battalion for their exploits.

Irabor said the retreating Niger Troops would continue operation on their own side of the border.

“Where is left is only Abadam and Malanfatori.

“We are going there already the troops in Kangarwa are warming up. If not for the rain they would have been in Malanfatori.

“Very soon this operation would be over. All you need to do is keep the instructions we are giving to you,” Major General Irabor told the troops.

Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole first captured Kareto, another stronghold and thereafter linked up with troops of the MNJTF that captured Damasak which has now been occupied by the Operation Lafiya Dole Troops.

Jordan Collaborates With Nigeria On Terrorism

Nigeria-Jordan-Collaborate-On-terrorismThe Republic of Jordan and Nigeria are exploring areas of collaboration to bring an end to the threats posed by the Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria’s northeast.

A delegation led by the Special Adviser to the King of Jordan on Political Affairs, Mr Manas Dabbas, were in Nigeria on Wednesday.

The delegation congratulated the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the Nigerian Armed Forces for their persistence at reducing the activities of the Boko Haram Terrorists.

Jordan sought closer collaboration in the area of intelligence gathering, regional cooperation and capacity building to enhance total eradication of extremist groups in Africa.

Mr Dabbas stated that the world was experiencing serious security threats from assorted radical groups like Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda and Al Shabbab among others.

He called for combined efforts by affected countries to provide mechanisms to under study conflicts and crisis occasioned by terrorist organisations with the aim of defeating such terrorist groups.

The spokesman for His Royal Majesty King Abdullah II praised the efforts of the CDS in piloting the affairs of the Nigerian Armed Forces and promised his country’s commitment to assisting Nigeria in combating the threat posed by Boko Haram.

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, thanked the Jordanian envoy for the visit and told the delegation about the operations of the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the synergy between regional troops to degrade the Boko Haram terrorists.

The CDS solicited for cooperation in the area of training and provisions of counter Improved Explosive Devices (IEDs) and emphasised the need to interface with regional forces and security agencies to eliminate the threat of terrorism.

He was accompanied by some Principal Staff Officers from Defence Headquarters to receive the Jordanian delegation.

Cameroun Will Support Nigeria Until War On Terror Is Won – Biya

CameroonThe Camerounian President, Paul Biya, has reassured Nigeria that his nation would support the war against the Boko Haram terrorist group till the end.

Mr Biya made the promise at a press conference held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Wednesday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

He is in Nigeria on a state visit.

The Camerounian leader also denied reports that his country had harboured terrorists and wanted to withdraw from the fight against Boko Haram.

On his part, President Buhari told reporters that he was grateful to the Chad Basin Commission, the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the G7 countries for the support they gave Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram.

In a communique at the end of their meeting, they reaffirmed their continuous commitment to the fight against Boko Haram until they were finally exterminated from their countries.

They appraised the success recorded so far and pledged their readiness to work with each other in economic and infrastructural development.

The joint communique was presented by the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Nigeria, Mr Geofrey Onyeama and his Camerounian counterpart.

Cameroun like Nigeria is fighting the Boko Haram group which had infiltrated the nation from Nigeria’s northeast region, making both countries increase collaboration in tacking a common enemy.

Nigeria and Cameroun had on Tuesday signed an agreement on trade cooperation and conservation of the Benue River.

The agreement was the outcome of the bilateral talks between President Buhari and Mr Biya.

Nigeria’s Defence Chief Visits Niger, Cameroun To Deepen Military Ties

CDS Olonisakin Defence ChiefNigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, has sought ways of strengthening the existing bi-lateral cooperation between Nigeria, Niger Republic and Republic of Cameroun.

The Defence Chief made several requests during official trips to both countries.

In Niger Republic, General Olonisakin met with the President of the country, Mahamadou Issoufou and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Seyni Garba and discussions on issues that concern the two countries were highlighted.

General Olonisakin thanked the Niger President for the role his country was playing in counter-terrorism operations in Lake Chad Basin and the country’s role in the formation of Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

Nigeria’s CDS expressed delight that Boko Haram had been significantly decimated, a feat, he stressed, called for stronger ties between Nigeria and its neighbours to ensure that no safe haven was provided for the retreating Boko Haram terrorists in the sub-region.

A statement by the Acting Director Defence Information, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar, said General Olonisakin solicited for improved intelligence gathering and sharing, air asset operations and counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) operations within the Lake Chad Basin countries and across ECOWAS States.

While in Cameroun, Nigeria’s CDS was received by the Camerounian Honourable Minister of Defence, Edgard Allain Mebe Ngo’o and the country’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Rene-Claude Meka where similar discussions, as in Niger Republic, were held.

One of the highlights of the discussion in Cameroun, however, was in the area of stronger cooperation in maritime environment, especially in the Gulf of Guinea, to tackle the incessant case of bunkering, oil theft and piracy. General Olonisakin has since returned to Nigeria.

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, had on Thursday in Abuja said a Multinational Task Force would soon be established to patrol the waters of the Gulf of Guinea.

At a meeting with the French Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, President Buhari said that patrols by the task force would augment and boost ongoing efforts to improve security in the Gulf, and curb crude oil theft and piracy.

Nigeria, Benin Republic Discuss Fight Against Boko Haram

Boni Yayi and Muhammadu Buhari on Boko Haram Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari and the President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi, met on Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, to discuss the fight against Boko Haram terrorist group.

At the meeting, President Yayi pledged to deploy 800 military men to help fight insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east.

Acknowledging President Yayi’s contribution to the war on terror, President Buhari said securing a healthy relationship with neighbouring countries was key to security and economic development.

Neighbourliness And Development

President Buhari reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to maintaining the existing bilateral relationship with Benin Republic and other countries within West Africa.

He said: “Such partnerships are essential for good neighbourliness and development”.

The Nigerian leader further expressed Nigeria’s readiness to host an Economic Community for West African States’  summit in about nine days where vital issues bothering on security and the economy would be discussed.

Benin Republic, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic had set up a Multi-National Joint Task Force to strengthen inter-border security and reduce the free movement of terrorists within the nations’ borders.

After he was sworn in as President of Nigeria in May, Buhari visited some neighbouring countries to seek closer ties that would further reduce the trans-border movement of Boko Haram terrorists.

Nigeria, Neighbours Have Increased Capacity To Deal With Boko Haram – Buhari

president buhariNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, says that with the formation of a stronger regional coalition, Nigeria and other neighbouring countries have an increased capacity to deal with Boko Haram and other terrorist groups.

President Buhari said this on Friday during a conversation with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas.

According to his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President reaffirmed his belief that the full activation and deployment of the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) which has been established under the auspices of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, would lead to the speedy defeat and elimination of Boko Haram.

President Buhari also said that with the Command and Control Centre of the Nigerian military now in Maiduguri, Borno State, the morale of troops in the front-line states had improved significantly.

“You can tell the Secretary-General that we are doing our best and our best will be good enough for the nation and the sub-region,” President Buhari said.

Against the background of upcoming elections in Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea and Burkina Faso, the President also called on the United Nations to assist African countries in the acquisition and use of innovative technologies to ensure more credible elections.

“When citizens recognize that their votes count, it will boost their confidence in democracy and their countries’ electoral systems,” he said.

Recalling that in the last general elections in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) used smart card readers to authenticate prospective voters, President Buhari observed that while Nigeria could afford the use of such technology in its elections, other African countries may require support and assistance from the international community.

Dr Ibn Chambas commended President Buhari for his strong and positive actions against terrorism.

The United Nations envoy also welcomed President Buhari’s successful visit to Cameroon during the week and his reaffirmation of Nigeria’s commitment to the peaceful resolution of all border issues with Cameroon.