The flow of accolades, which the officers and men of the armed forces have been inundated with in recent times, over the resounding successes which have been recorded in recent times in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East zone of the country, seems to have been dampened by the sad incident of last Tuesday, of the accidental bombing of an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Borno State.
A very sad nation came face to face with the distressing news that a Nigerian Air Force bomber, on a mission to attack a column of assembling Boko Haram terrorists, had mistakenly dropped bombs at an IDP camp at Rann in Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State.
The news, which instantly went viral internationally reported that 52 innocent civilians, including aid workers lost their lives in the incident, while over 100 other people sustained various levels of injuries.
Following the sad incident, different arms of the armed forces have been apologizing to the grieving nation over the regrettable incident. President Muhammadu Buhari had also sent a message or lament over the incident, while mourning the dead and commiserating with the relatives of the victims of the mistake.
In its message released soon after the incident, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) whose aircraft was involved in the accidental bombing stated that “the Nigerian Air Force (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.”
Continuing, NAF added that “while available information is sketchy, the Theatre Commander OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE is taking appropriate steps to avail us with details of the incident.” It further added that “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 pain that is being felt by Nigerians across the length and breadth of the nation was exacerbated by another saddening event of the previous day which was still trending at a time when the nation was celebrating what looked a systematic routing of Boko Haram, and as sanity was returning to the whole of the troubled North East. Last Monday, the nation was jarred by the news of a suicide bombing of a mosque at University of Maiduguri during the early morning prayers and which claimed the lives of over 12 innocent people, including a professor, who had come to start their day with the worship of their creator but met a most untimely death.
The University of Maiduguri mosque bombing was particularly saddening because it is noteworthy that during the over five years devastation terrorist campaigns of the Boko Haram which had devastated Maiduguri and most other parts of Borno State, the university campus had, somehow, been left out by the terrorists as a hallowed ground that had remained insulated from their infamy. It was further saddening because a female child of less than 12 years of old was used as the suicide bomber.
The Rann IDP camp bombing was an unfortunate climax to what was a bloody week, just as it was an irony to the massive victories being recorded in what looks like the mopping up operation in the Operation Lafiya Dole, which was bringing the Boko Haram terrorism to a definitive eclipse.
THE AUTHORITY is saddened by and finds the mistaken bombing incident very regrettable, even as we commiserate with the victims and relatives of the incident, praying the Almighty God to accept the souls of all those who perished in the incident and bring healing balms to the wounds of the injured. We also pray that God brings full condolence to all those who lost their relatives and kins in the unfortunate incident.
We further seek the understanding and forbearance of Nigerians over the issue, as we request a full acceptance of the apologies of the different arms of the military over the incident. The enormous collective and individual sacrifices of our officers and men of the military who have been involved in the enormous efforts to rid Nigeria of the terrorist scourge, over these years are enough reason to forgive any lapses that came through accidents, which are not beyond any human.
While not being a justification for the IDP accidental bombing, THE AUTHORITY wishes to draw attention that even the most sophisticated militaries in the world are not beyond these types of regrettable mistakes. The air force of the United States which is regarded as one of the best in the world had in recent times mistakenly struck a hospital in Afghanistan resulting in casualties of patients and medical staffers. Ditto for the Russian Air Force in its recent campaigns in Syria. Other instances of “friendly fire” abound all over the world, even if they are all saddening whenever they occur.
In conclusion, this paper appeals by the officers and men of our military not to be dampened by this accident but to apply themselves more assiduously to their delicate tasks in the Operation Lafiya Dole, especially as ultimate victory is very close at hand.