- DHQ: Inappropriate marking of areas caused Rann IDPs bombing
Paul Obi in Abuja
In a renewed onslaught against Boko Haram, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Saturday gave a 40-day ultimatum to Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-east, to capture the terror group leader, Abubakar Shekau, dead or alive.
Announcing the ultimatum in a statement Saturday, the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, said, “The Theatre Commander has further been directed to do so within 40 days. He is to employ all arsenals at the disposal of the Theatre Command to smoke out Shekau wherever he is hiding in Nigeria.”
He urged the general public to assist by volunteering information that would lead to the accomplishment of this task.
This is the first time the military would be giving an ultimatum to its commanders for the capture or elimination of Shekau and it is believed that the capture or elimination of Shakau will be a turning point in the war against terror which the nation has been waging in the past six years.
Though Shekau’s location is currently unknown, he is believed to be hiding on the fringes of Sambisa Forest.
The military had, on more than two occasions claimed it killed Shekau, only for the Boko Haram leader to resurface on each of those instances in videos to debunk such claims. Even when the military announced the capture of Sambisa forest, it was evidently clear that Shekau had escaped their radar as there were no reports of his death or capture.
While it has been established that there are two factions of Boko Haram groups that the federal government has been waging war against, it is believed that the one, which released the Chibok school girls was not the Shekau faction.
In another development, the Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday said inappropriate marking of areas in Rann, Borno State was the cause of the erroneous bombing of the Internal Displayed Persons (IDPs) camp earlier this year.
Making public the outcome of three investigations, Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, explained that DHQ constituted Boards of Inquiry to investigate the incidents and come up with their reports.
He said: “Some of the services and commands, who were directly affected also constituted their boards of inquiry in line with service regulations.”
On the bombing of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) near the Camp in Rann, on 17 January 2017, Enenche stated 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.
“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 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 neutralised with speed.”
He added that, “All locations where humanitarian activities take place in the theatre of operation should be marked appropriately for ground and aerial identification in line with international best practices.
“The geographical and spatial coordinates of all areas of humanitarian activities within the Theatre, should be provided to the Theatre Command Headquarters.
“There should be timely and mandatory exchange of information between stakeholders, for all activities in the Theatre of operation.
Concerning the armed clash between some Nigerian Army and Police personnel under Operation Lafiya Dole in Damaturu on April 11, 2017, which led to the death of one soldier and three policemen, with 7 other policemen injured, Enenche said: “It was caused by an avoidable misunderstanding from exchange of words and later physical confrontation.
“Hence, the constitution of the board of inquiry, which made some findings and came up with recommendations, to forestall future occurrences.
“It was recommended that: Strict centralised operational and administrative control should be exercised, on all security agencies serving under Operation Lafiya Dole.
“Offenders in the incident are to be sanctioned appropriately, to serve as deterrent to other personnel in the theatre of operation. The outcome of all disciplinary action should be communicated to other parties.”
Enenche also disclosed the outcome of investigation into the clash between Nigerian Navy and Police Personnel in Calabar, stating that, “On 30 May 2017, there was a clash between personnel of the Nigerian Navy and Police in Calabar that led to the death of two policemen and shooting of a naval personnel, which was investigated. The incident equally resulted in the destruction of properties.”
“It was found that, the immediate cause was a misunderstanding between a naval rating and a policeman that escalated. Thus, recommendations were made to forestall future occurrences,” he added.
The DHQ said “The Nigerian Navy and Police, should institute further investigation to identify erring personnel for sanctions,” stating that, “Security services should periodically remind their personnel to always comply with standing regulations, at all times and places.”