Rann IDPs bombing: Probe panel seeks extension of mandate

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By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—THE six-member panel set up by the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, to unravel the remote and immediate causes of the January 17 erroneous bombing of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camp in Rann, Borno State, has requested for extension of time, according to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar.

This was just as another panel set up earlier to investigate the cause of Dornier-228 aircraft crash in 2015, submitted its findings, identifying human loss of concentration by the pilot as main cause of the crash that saw all occupants of the jet dead.

This handout image received courtesy of Doctors Without Border (MSF) on January 17, 2017, shows people standing next to destruction after an air force jet accidentally bombarded a camp for those displaced by Boko Haram Islamists, in Rann, northeast Nigeria.
At least 52 aid workers and civilians were killed on January 17, 2017, when an air force jet accidentally bombed a camp in northeast Nigeria instead of Boko Haram militants, medical charity MSF said. / AFP PHOTO

Also, the investigative report on the crash of Agusta AW 101, a medium-lift helicopter specially designed for military operations, which was donated to the Nigerian Air Force by the Presidency, got its probe mandate extended over its inability to conclude the assignment.

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Recall that the aircraft crashed at the Nigerian Air Force base, Makurdi, last year.

Answering questions from newsmen, yesterday, on the occasion of presentation of investigative report on the August 29,2015 Dornier-228 crash, Abubakar said the six-man investigative panel on the IDPs bombing requested for additional time to conclude its job.

He, however, did not state the duration of the extension the Air Force granted the panel.

Recall that the panel upon inauguration by the Air Force chief, was given a three-week mandate, precisely February 2,2017, to submit its report.

The 6-man panel is headed by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Headquarters Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Salihu Bala-Ribah.

Among its terms of reference, was to determine the immediate and remote causes as well as the circumstances that led to the accidental air strikes.

It should be noted that on January 17, this year, the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, fighter jet participating in the restoration of peace in the North East, erroneously bombed an Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs’ camp in Rann, Borno State, killing over 50 inhabitants.

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Disturbed by the development which attracted global concerns, the Nigerian Air Force authorities set up a board of senior officers to investigate the accidental air strike.

Presenting the investigative report on the Dornier-228 crash to the Chief of Air Staff, yesterday, the panel chairman, Air Vice Marshal Sampson Akpasa, referred to the cause in aeronautical terms as “special disorientation.”

He explained that it was an act where the pilot lost concentration due to absent-mindedness.

The Nigerian Air Force Dornier-228 aircraft crashed on August 29, 2015, with call sign NAF030,   into a house at Ribadu Cantonment, Kaduna State, with no survivors.

The aircraft was Abuja-bound and had taken off at about 6:45am from the Kaduna Military Airfield before the mishap.

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