The Nigerian Red Cross Society has commiserated with members and volunteers of the body over Tuesday, January 17 bombing of an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Borno state by a military jet which left scores dead, including six members of the Red Cross, and many others injured.
This was contained in a condolence message signed by the National President of the society, Elder Bolaji Akpan Anani and emailed to members and volunteers, and obtained by Safety Record Newspaper.
Also, 13 more members and volunteers of the Red Cross were injured in the incident which occurred at 9am Nigerian Time in the camp which accommodates more than 25,000.
Anani described the incident as a “sad and grievous loss” which was “avoidable”.
While commiserating with the Borno state branch of the society and the families of the deceased, the NRCS President prayed against a reoccurrence of the incident.
The message reads in part, “On behalf of the Governance, Management, Staff, Members and Volunteers of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, it is with a deep sense of grief that I condole with all members and volunteers over the sad and grievous loss of some of our volunteers and staff on humanitarian duty, in the avoidable incident in Bana, Borno State on Tuesday, 17/01/17.
“We wish the wounded quick recovery as we commiserate with the Borno Branch and the families of the deceased. Our hearts and prayers are with them.
“May I also convey the condolences of the ICRC President, the IFRC Secretary General, The IFRC and ICRC Africa Regional Directors, the ICRC Head of Delegation in Nigeria, the IFRC Head of Cluster in Abuja, and some sister National Societies who have called/e-mailed on this.
“It is our collective prayer that this does not happen to us again as we continue to support all those who need help everywhere.”
The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the interagency military operation to wipe out Boko Haram, Major General Lucky Irabor said the incident which occurred in Rann, the capital of Kala Balge local government area, was a “fatal error”.
He said troops got information about the movement of Boko Haram insurgents in the area, obtained the coordinates and sent the military aircraft to clear the area, but it accidentally bombed the camp.
Meanwhile, casualty figures have continued to generate controversy as the incident came under Presidential and Legislative investigation.
The Chairman of Kala-Balge local government, Babagana Malarima said on Friday, January 20 that 236 people died in the incident.
He said 234 people were buried in Rann village after the incident while two more people died in the hospital after they were flown by helicopter from the camp.
An international humanitarian group working at the camp, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on the day of the incident that 52 persons died and 120 others were injured. MSF later said the casualty figure could be as high as 174.
The United Nations in a statement through the Office of the Secretary General called on the Nigerian government to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident to forestall a reoccurrence.