NAF panel summons commander, pilots over bombing of IDPs camp

As part of investigations into the accidental bombing of an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Ran Borno State, the Nigerian Air Force on Thursday inaugurated a six-man investigative panel.

The panel was mandated to submit its report in two weeks.

Members of the panel are the NAF Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice-Marshal Salihu Bala-Ribah (head), Air Vice-Marshal Charles Oghomwen, Air Commodore Ayoola Jolasinmi, Group Captain Essien Efanga, Wing Commander Solmon Irmiya and Wing Commander Mohammed Muazu.

According to the Punch newspaper, the panel has summoned the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor; the pilots who launched the air strike, and some air officers at the Air Component base in Yola, Adamawa State.

A source at the NAF confirmed that they have been summoned.

He said, “The NAF is not treating this incident with kid’ gloves, and it is not going to spare any indicted officer. The Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre commander is top among those to be summoned by the panel.

“Nothing yet has happened to the pilots because no report has indicted them. There are several procedures before you go to bomb a location; there are the Surveillance platforms and the Air Interdiction platforms.

“The panel will unravel whether surveillance was done at the location before the air strike. All these are necessary.

“Also, the panel will find out if the Rann location had been an IDPs’ camp known to the military or not.”

NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa in a statement said the NAF has identified 20 witnesses the panel will invite.

He said, “The NAF has constituted a board of senior officers to investigate the accidental air strike on January 17, 2017, at Rann, Borno State. Among its terms of reference, the board is to determine the immediate and remote causes as well as the circumstances that led to the incident.

“This is with a view to forestalling future occurrence. In addition to a list of 20 witnesses given to it, the board is free to invite other persons to give evidence on oath. The Board is to submit its report not later than February 2, 2017.”

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