Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State has pleaded for the pilot and other officers of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) involved in bombing of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Rann last week.
The governor said the bombing was human error, adding that the Air Force deserves empathy from Nigerians and not condemnation over the incident.
Receiving the NAF investigative team, led by Chief of Standard and Evaluation, Vice Marshal Sallau Salihu Bala-Ribah, the governor said: “I believe there is nothing sinister about the accidental bombing by the Air Force men. The men could not have deliberately dropped bombs on the people. It is one of the tragedies of war. It is regrettable and condemnable, but the accident has not pitted our people against the military. I appeal to the Nigerian Air Force not to punish the pilot and the air men that fly the jet.”
He recalled similar accidental firings in India and other places, including the bombing of a medical facility by the US airmen, while noting that the Air Force has supported Borno and her people in time of need and could not have deliberately killed the same people it seeks to protect.
Shettima highlighted some of the Air Force intervention in the state, aside military operations, including establishment of clinics in both Maiduguri and Bama IDPs camps.
In Lagos, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the acidental bombing of the IDP camp was regrettable.
Abubakar said this at the weekend when he led other Air Force officers to immortalise 158 military officers killed in a C-130 plane crash in the Ejigbo area of Lagos State, 25 years ago.
Abubakar said the officers died in the line of duty and the Force has taken steps to address welfare needs of their families.
He named the crew of the ill-fated plane as Wing Commanders Pere Alabosun, Ali Mamadi and Squadron Leader JA Adeiza, who were pilots, co-pilots and flight engineer.
“Although remarkable successes were achieved, the incident of January 17, in the North-East is regrettable and unfortunate.
“The days between the incident and now have been the most painful for us. However, we take solace in the fact that it was in a bid to secure these same victims that the sad incident occurred.
“We are reviewing our processes to unravel how this incident could have occurred and to prevent future occurrences. I urge you not to be discouraged by this unfortunate incident but rather, we will continue to strive harder to secure our communities and add value to our societies…”
“This structure was constructed to address the inadequacy of houses in the base and in various units across the country. We are also embarking on massive renovation/upgrading of existing quarters that were hitherto dilapidated to improve their conditions.
“The projects commissioned are named after our colleagues who fell in the line of duty. They died during the C-130 air crash at Ejigbo on September 26, 1992. We have ensured that the welfare of the families of fallen personnel is catered for. We provide accommodation for their families and those who died in service, their families got bulk pension of five years.
While eulogising the Air Force for its role in combating insurgents and militancy, the Air Force boss said: “The NAF has contributed greatly to the restoration of peace, security, humanitarian efforts and well-being of Nigerians. We have performed credibly well in all the ongoing operations we are engaged in. These were achieved through effective projection of air power in various operations to soften the ground for the surface forces.”
Earlier, Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Yahaya described the buildings as another milestone project for the NAF personnel in Lagos.
“This would go a long way in ameliorating the shortage of officers’ residential quarters in Lagos area. Undoubtedly, the execution of similar projects and numerous others in different NAF units across the country showcases the commitment of the CAS towards the actualisation of his vision.
“Improving the personnel’s living condition has not only raised their morale but also modelled them into a highly professional and disciplined troop for effective, efficient and timely employment in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.”