The panel has two weeks to submit its report.
The PUNCH learnt that as part of its investigation into the bombing, the panel had summoned, among others, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor; the pilots who launched the air strike, and some air officers at the Air Component base in Yola, Adamawa State.
A top source at the NAF, who confirmed the invitation of Irabor and some NAF officers, added that the pilots, who dropped the bombs, could not yet be sanctioned since the panel had not submitted any finding to indict them.
Members of the panel are the NAF Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice-Marshal Salihu Bala-Ribah (head), Air Vice-Marshal Charles Oghomwen, Air Commodore Ayoola Jolasinmi, Group Captain Essien Efanga, Wing Commander Solmon Irmiya and Wing Commander Mohammed Muazu.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, said in a statement on Thursday that the panel would submit its report on Thursday, February 2, 2017.
Famuyiwa stated that the NAF had listed 20 witnesses, who the panel would invite but free to invite more outside the list.
He said, “The NAF has constituted a board of senior officers to investigate the accidental air strike on January 17, 2017, at Rann, Borno State. Among its terms of reference, the board is to determine the immediate and remote causes as well as the circumstances that led to the incident.
“This is with a view to forestalling future occurrence. In addition to a list of 20 witnesses given to it, the board is free to invite other persons to give evidence on oath. The Board is to submit its report not later than February 2, 2017.”
While the statement did not list the witnesses to be invited, the source told The PUNCH that Irabor, who coordinates the special operations against the Boko Haram’s terrorists in the North-East, and the pilots who launched the air strike, were among the 20 witnesses to be summoned by the NAF panel.
He said, “The NAF is not treating this incident with kid’ gloves, and it is not going to spare any indicted officer. The Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre commander is top among those to be summoned by the panel.
“Nothing yet has happened to the pilots because no report has indicted them. There are several procedures before you go to bomb a location; there are the Surveillance platforms and the Air Interdiction platforms. Read in full