A military fighter jet has allegedly bombed the convoy of a prominent federal senator as he drove to the scene of an attack by suspected Islamic extremists in Borno State. Fortunately no one was hurt.
Sen. Mohammed Ali Ndume, who briefed the journalists in Maiduguri on January 12, 2014, Sunday, said Saturday's bombing proved “the seriousness of how the military endangers innocent civilians.”
He was travelling to Ardoko to commiserate with constituents attacked Saturday by extremists, who killed eight civilians.
Sen. Ndume said four bombs exploded around his convoy as he drove through the nearby village of Pulka, just 500 meters (a third of a mile) and in sight of a military checkpoint. He said villagers including children who had come out to wave at him scattered as the bombs went off and the convoy skidded off the road.
The people in the convoy initially thought they were under attack by Boko Haram extremists.
“I heard a massive explosion and some other ones followed.“I thought it was Boko Haram that were attacking us; we even thought it was some people waving at us from the road side that detonated the bombs.”
Sen. Ndume revealed that soldiers had confirmed him that the bombing of six-vehicle convoy, led by an army vehicle with a police van in the rear, was “an operational blunder” and the bombs came from a Nigerian Air Force plane.
“Even if it was an operational hitch, as they claimed, how could an air force pilot fire four bombs at a moving convoy being escorted by soldiers and police on a federal highway without bothering to check with the ground forces?” Sen. Ndume asked.
Soldiers at the nearest checkpoint tried to communicate with the pilot after the bombing, but failed.
According to Col. Muhammed Dole, the Military spokesman in the area, he had no information on the senator's convoy being bombed, but confirmed a military operation with air support was going on around Ardoko village, 185 kilometres (115 miles) the capital city of Borno state, Maiduguri.
It would be recalled that Sen. Ndume was arrested in 2012 on allegations from a captured suspected Islamic militant that he was financing terrorist operations. He was subsequently released, apparently for lack of evidence.