From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has dispatched a high-powered delegation to Maiduguri on condolence visit following accidental bombing of a civilian community in Rann, Borno State, by the Nigerian Air Force, which left many civilians dead and wounded.
The delegation comprised of Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed, Minister for Defence, Dan Ali, the Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari and service chiefs.
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina disclosed this on his twitter handle @FemAdesina.
The Nigerian Airforce fighter jet had mistakenly dropped bombs on some settlements, believed to also harbour Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs), in Rann, Kala Balge LGA of the state, killing over 50 persons. About 200 others, including some humanitarian aid workers of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) were reported injured.
The president had, on Tuesday, described the bombing as sad and regrettable, appealing for calm over the accident.
While condoning with families of the dead, wishing the wounded divine succour, leading to full recovery, and sympathizing with the Borno State government, pledged federal help for the state government in attending to “this regrettable operational mistake,” and pleaded for calm, even as he prayed God to grant repose to the souls of the dead.
Buhari was particularly sad that his happened while the Nigerian Air Force engaged in the final phase of mopping up Boko Haram terrorists in the North-east.
International aid agency, MSF had told BBC that at least 50 person were killed and more than 100 injured in the accident.
The New Agency of Nigeria had quoted Maj-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole as saying on Tuesday “So far, it is a little bit disturbing; death has occurred. There are casualties; there were deaths and injuries.”
He said: “This morning, we received a report about the gathering of Boko Haram terrorists around Kala Balge area of Maiduguri. I coordinated and directed that the air component of the operation should go and address the problem.
“Unfortunately, the strike was conducted but it turned out that other civilians were somewhere around the area and they were affected.”
He said some humanitarian staff of Medicines Sans Frontiers and some staff of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) were also affected.
“We are sending helicopters to evacuate those that were critically wounded, including our wounded soldiers.”
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) had described the incident as unfortunate and highly regrettable.
In a statement by the Director, Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, the NAF said it would keep updating the public as soon as investigations were concluded.
Famuyiwa said: “The NAF is saddened by today’s accidental air strike by its fighter jet at Rann in Kala Balge area of Borno State in which some innocent lives were lost. While available information is sketchy, the Theatre Commander OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE is taking appropriate steps to avail us with details of the incident.
“The loss occasioned by this unfortunate incident is deeply regretted. The NAF commiserates with those affected and their families and would update the public as soon as detailed facts emerge from the investigation.”
The Defence Headquarters also expressed shock at the incidence, describing it as a regrettable mistake that would be avoided in future.
Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council did not hold yesterday.
No official reason was given for the cancellation of the meeting. However, it was gathered Buhari was devastated by the news of the accidental bombing.
The Council meeting was cancelled last minute as Presidential aides as well as some ministers unaware of the information arrived.