Thursday, 19 January 2017

Reps seek probe of accidental bombing at IDPs camp

Divergent opinions were expressed yesterday by House of Representatives members, following Tuesday’s accidental bombing of an Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camp in Rann, Kale Balge Local Government Area of Borno State by the Air Force.

With scores dead and hundreds injured, the lawmakers were in support of an investigation of the incident.

Several lawmakers said the NAF should not be condemned as such unfortunate cases were not uncommon in conflict situations.

Following the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance on the bombing by Sani Zorro (APC, Jigawa), the House resolved to constitute a 10-member committee selected from committees on IDPs, Refugees and Initiatives on the Northeast, Army,  Air Force, Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Assistance and Health Services.

The committee will, among others, visit the scene of the disaster and ascertain the level of response of emergency assistance needed by surviving victims and their families.

It will ascertain the extent to which emergency and adequate health services are being extended to survivors.

In his submission, Zorro regretted the deaths and injury suffered by hundreds of others, including humanitarian workers.

According to the lawmaker, the preliminary explanation by the Armed Forces command was that the incident was not a deliberate act nor a hostile act on the civilian population.

He said: “While we are aware of claims and counter claims among humanitarian actors and the media surrounding the actual casualty figure so far recorded in the wake of the incident, we should be mindful of the need to ascertain whether the air strike was in accordance with strict observance of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) under air law and as enshrined under International Humanitarian Law (IHL), otherwise known as the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC).”

Many lawmakers described the incident as sad, unfortunate and irresponsible, a few said this was not enough to condemn the military.

Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) argued that the country has never recorded any instance of deliberate incident as the accidental bombing at Rann IDPs camp.

He said: “What we should ask for at this point in time is what measures to put be in place to prevent reoccurrence.

“We should not subject the NAF to such demeaning condemnation and I don’t see the need for any investigation.

“The House should rather call on the Armed Forces to take appropriate measure to avert such reoccurrence and brief the House on such measures.

Emmanuel Oker-Jev (APC, Benue), however, emphasised that it will be unfortunate to conclude that the incidence was deliberate.

“What needed be done is to improve their intelligence gathering because wrong intelligence report can lead to disaster.

“The Borno incidence is unfortunate but can happen anywhere. This should not lead to condemnation of our military,” Oker-Jev said.

Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma (PDP, Edo) said it was no time to point fingers and castigate the military.

“How do we know if it was an error or otherwise? We should not jump into conclusion and this is not the time to point fingers and castigate anyone. The investigation should be conducted with no sentiments.”

Mohammed Sani (APC, Bauchi) contributed that the issue of friendly fire was not uncommon in situations like this.

He said the major concern should be on quality of intelligence gathering among and within security agencies.

He canvassed proper coordination and intelligence sharing among security agencies as well as proper administration and delineation of IDP camps.

Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje (PDP, Abia) said: “Only recently our military was celebrated over capture of Sambisa but we should know this is not a conventional war. The entire intelligence coordination of our security agencies should be looked into.”

The motion was unanimously adopted after it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

No comments:

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...