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.
Officials 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.
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.
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.
“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.
Fifty-four victims of the Nigerian Air Force accidental bombing in Rann, Kala-Balge Local Council of Borno State are in stable conditions at different hospitals where they are receiving treatment, a government official said on Wednesday.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Haruna Mshelia, told reporters that the victims were receiving treatment at three hospitals located in Maiduguri.
Giving a breakdown of the locations of the 54 victims, Dr. Mshelia said 32 persons were receiving treatment at the State Specialist Hospital; 16 were being treated at Seven Division Military Hospital in Maimalari Barracks while six persons are hospitalised at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.
The Commissioner said all the 54 hospitalised victims were in stable conditions, with medical experts from the State, humanitarian partners and the military attending to their health needs.
“It is still too early to give an accurate number of deaths because as at the time of issuing the update, evacuation of survivors is still ongoing with four helicopters provided by the United Nations and the Nigerian Air Force airlifting the victims,” he said.
Dr. Mshelia also told reporters that bodies were still being recovered.
The Commissioner said humanitarian partners like the MSF, International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the United Nations and different stakeholders have been extremely dedicated to the emergency evacuation and medical response.
Meanwhile Governor Kashim Shettima has since morning deployed his Deputy, Usman Mamman Durkwa and the House of Representatives member, representing Kala-Balge, Bama, Dikwa and Ngala Federal Constituency of Borno State, Mamman Nur Sheriff among other officials to the scene of the incident at Rann, Headquarters of Kala-Balge Local Government Area in order to assess the situation and supervise evacuation of victims to Maiduguri.
The State Ministry of Health has already put in place an emergency medical response team to coordinate rehabilitation of victims, the statement said.
Four Nigerian soldiers have been injured and at least 15 members of the Boko Haram sect were killed in a fresh clash in Rann town in Borno State.
A source told Channels Television that the soldiers were able to repel an attack by the terrorists early on Friday.
This follows the military’s declaration of totally clearing out Sambisa forest with some members of the Boko Haram sect on the run.
In the meantime, the Nigerian Air Force’s Augusta helicopter has been deployed to pick one of the four soldiers severely wounded in the clash.
The soldier has been taken to 133 Reference Hospital in Kaduna where he is receiving treatment.
This incident comes a day after the leader of the terror sect, Abubakar Shekau, appeared in a new video, claiming his group has not been defeated.
The Army responded describing the video as a piece of propaganda that should be disregarded.
The Acting Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, maintained that the Nigerian Army “has captured and occupied the last known stronghold of the terrorists group in the Sambisa forest”.
“We would like to reassure the public that this video is nothing but mere terrorists propaganda aimed at creating fear in the mind of people and to remain relevant.
“Therefore, there is no cause for alarm, more so as concerted effort in clearing the vestiges of Boko Haram terrorists wherever they might be hiding is still ongoing.”
The Nigerian Army has announced the arrest of four men suspected to be specialized in illegal trades and other criminal activities to sustain the Boko Haram terrorists.
The Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman made this known in a statement on Friday.
“Troops of 3 Battalion, of 22 Task Force Brigade have made an unprecedented catch with the arrest of 4 Boko Haram terrorists Ameers (kingpins) at Rann, headquarters of Kala Balge Local Government Area today, Friday 22nd April 2016.
“The arrested kingpins specialized on various aspects of criminality to sustain the Boko Haram terrorists group in their areas.
“The four terrorists were arrested following a tip off by well-meaning members of the public.
“Subsequently, the troops conducted a cordon and search operation in the general area that led to the apprehension of the terrorist leaders, who contribute to the sustenance of the insurgency through their illegal trade specialization.
“The arrested kingpins include Umara Mai Gyaran Rediyo (Radio Technician), Umaru Mai Nama, (who specialize in cattle rustling and sales), Alifa Makinta (a specialist on stealing foodstuffs) and Balu Jugudum (in charge of stolen jewelleries).
“Presently the suspects are undergoing interrogation,” the statement read.