by ‘Jola Sotubo
A near fatal mishap was recorded in Borno at the weekend as a fighter jet of one of the armed forces reportedly bombed the convoy of a senator.
Senator Ali Ndume was said to be on his way to visit some victims of Boko Haram attacks when the incident happened.
The bombing was said to be as a result of a mistake on the part of the military who thought the senator’s convoy belonged to Boko Haram insurgents.
P.M. News reports:
Ndume was on his way to the scene of an attack by suspected Boko Haram militants when his convoy was bombed by the jet.
Miraculously, no one was hurt.
Ndume said Saturday’s bombing underscored “the seriousness of how the military endangers innocent civilians.”
Thousands of security forces have been deployed to northeast Nigeria under a state of emergency covering one-sixth of Africa’s biggest oil producers to crack down on a 4-year-old Islamic uprising.
Ndume said soldiers told him the bombing of his six-vehicle convoy — led by an army vehicle with a police van in the rear — was “an operational blunder.”
Military spokesman Col. Muhammed Dole said he knew nothing of the senator’s convoy being bombed, but confirmed a military operation with air support was going on around Ardoko village, 185 kilometers (115 miles) from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.
Ndume was traveling to Ardoko to commiserate with constituents attacked Saturday by extremists, who killed eight civilians.
He said four bombs exploded around his convoy as he drove through the nearby village of Pulka, just 500 meters (a third of a mile) and in sight of a military checkpoint. He said villagers including children who had come out to wave at him scattered as the bombs went off and the convoy skidded off the road.
Ndume thought he was being attacked by extremists from the Boko Haram terrorist network.
“I heard a massive explosion and some other ones followed,” he told a news conference in Maiduguri. “I thought it was Boko Haram that were attacking us; we even thought it was some people waving at us from the road side that detonated the bombs.”
But when they returned to the military post for protection, soldiers told him the bombs came from a Nigerian Air Force plane.
“Even if it was an operational hitch, as they claimed, how could an air force pilot fire four bombs at a moving convoy being escorted by soldiers and police on a federal highway without bothering to check with the ground forces?” Ndume asked.
Soldiers at the checkpoint tried to communicate with the pilot after the bombing, but failed, he said.
Ndume was arrested in 2012 on allegations from a captured suspected Islamic militant that he was financing terrorist operations. He was subsequently released, apparently for lack of evidence.