From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has dispatched a high-powered delegation to Maiduguri, Borno State capital, on condolence visit, following the bombing of a civilian community in Rann by the Nigerian Air Force, which left many civilians dead and wounded.
The delegation comprises Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed; Minister for Defence, General Dan Ali; Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari and service chiefs.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this on his twitter handle @FemAdesina.
The Nigerian Air Force fighter jet had mistakenly dropped bombs on some settlements believed to 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.
Presidential Committee on North East Initiative reacts
The Chairman, Presidential Committee on North East Initiative (PCNI) has given assurance on the protection of IDPs, tragic Air Force strike as highly regrettable.
A statement by Mr. Alkasim Abdulkadir, the Head of Media and Communications of the committee yesterday, quoted the chairman of the committee as saying: “The unfortunate incident, which occurred on Tuesday at Rann IDPs camp, Kala Balge in Borno, was not only tragic but also a monumental loss to the nation.”
The chairman gave assurance on the safety of aid workers bringing relief materials and medical items to those in camps and host communities.
He expressed his heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Borno, noting: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the IDPs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Medicines San Frontiers (MSF) and the Nigerian Red Cross (NRC).
“We also condole with the families of other volunteers who were affected.’’
UN dispatches medics, aid officials
The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has revealed the dispatch of medical personnel to the bombed IDPs camp.
Making this public, Mr. Edward Kallon, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, in a statement issued on behalf of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), said the agency was sending a helicopter with four medical personnel and 400 kg of emergency medical supplies.
He added that the UNHAS also dispatched eight Nigerian Red Cross workers.
Lai Mohammed defends Air Force
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has stated that error leading to the death of civilians was not a true reflection of the level of professionalism in the Nigerian Air Force.
Speaking through a statement issued by Segun Adeyemi, his media aide, yesterday, the minister described the Rann misfire “as utterly tragic.”
Mohammed expressed sadness over the incident, insisting that it was not a true reflection of the level of professionalism witnessed during the visit of the delegation he lead, made up of military chiefs and members of the Bring back Our Girl group, to the troubled North East.