A pro-Democracy and Non- Governmental Organisation- Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) has dismissed the report of the investigation purportedly conducted by the Defence Headquarters into the bombing of an Internally Displaced person’s camp in Rann Borno state as soft tissues of public relations gambit for the military institutions in the Country.
Besides, the Rights group said the investigation does not meet the threshold of global best practices since it wasn’t independent and transparent and indeed it was simply an internal manipulative mechanisms activated by the hierarchy of the nation’s military just to whitewash a very serious and damaging institutional error committed by the Nigerian military in the conduct of the ongoing counter terror war in the North East of Nigeria.
In a statement by the NationalCoordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said the outcome of that official probe amounted to the height of insensitivity and irresponsibility especially the dimension it took whereby the blame for such a callous logistical error was shifted from the military of Nigeria and the Nigerian State to the poor and desperate internally displaced persons who were unfortunately bombed out of existence in their hundreds by the same military institutions that ought to defend them from the ferocious attacks of armed boko Haram terrorists.
HURIWA said that since the Defence Headquarters rightly branded the incident as the erroneous airstrike of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) near the Camp at Rann in Kala-Balge Local Government Area, Borno State, on 17 January 2017, by the Nigerian Air Force, why then was no single person held to account for such an egregious miscalculation and error of judgment?
HURIWA recalled that the Defence Headquarters constituted Boards of Inquiry to investigate the incidents and come up with their reports. However, defence headquarters affirmed that some of the Services and commands who were directly affected also constituted their Boards of Inquiry in line with service regulations. In all, Defence Headquarters was equally provided with the reports of all the other Boards constituted, to investigate the various incidents.
HURIWA recalled also that all the reports were evaluated by a final Board at the Defence Headquarters, to have a clear picture of the incidents and thereafter, comprehensive reports of each of the incidents were produced.
HURIWA recalled that the Defence Headquarters claimed that the main reason that caused the unfortunate airstrike near the IDP camp at Rann, was lack of appropriate marking of the area, near the Camp where the IDPs were struck.
Defence Headquarters claimed that hitherto, people were not expected to amass at that location. Furthermore, the location was not reflected in the operational map as a humanitarian base.
The Defence Headquarters further claimed that “the normal pattern for Boko Haram Terrorists to form up, before attacking innocent civilians and troops is to amass. Hence, it appeared as a place that could equally be used for enemy activities. Thus, when mass movement was noticed through aerial satellite observation, it was taken for Boko Haram Terrorists activity, which needed to be neutralized with speed”.
Reacting to the findings of the investigative panels on the bombing of the IDPs, HURIWA said the findings were not far-reaching and was simply a choreographed face saving measure erected by the military officials to hide behind technicalities to exonerate their officers of guilt of criminal negligence which may have occasioned the incident that caused the untimely demise of over a hundred innocent civilians.
HURIWA accused the military of failing to list out the specific names of individuals whether civilians or military who ought to have provided operational intelligence but neglected their obligations thereby leading to the accidental bombing of the civilians even as the Rights group said there was clear evidence that the unfortunate cruel fate suffered by the innocent civilians did not elicit adequate remorse from the military institutions hence the identities of the victims were deliberately not disclosed and the Spokesman of the Defence never offered profound apologies for this egregious error.
Besides, the Rights group said there were reports that some of those internally displaced persons waved their clothes to demonstrate that they needed emergency services and assistance but that what they later saw were series of bombs that were unleashed on them.
HURIWA therefore has asked the Federal Government to set up a high powered judicial commission of inquiry into the accidental bombing during which time the survivors would be invited in camera to render all the evidence that they may have before and after the incident.
“HURIWA is calling on the Federal Government and the Acting President to ensure that some persons are brought to account for the crime of bombing internally displaced persons to death. What happened was human error which may have occurred due to criminal negligence or crass incompetence and lack of professionalism. Legally, Ethically and Morally whenever such an incident happens the families of the unfortunate victims ought to be adequately compensated and if someone or a group of persons were found negligent of their lawful duties then they must be sanctioned in accordance with the laws of Nigeria.”