Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri
As the news of the shooting of Senator Magnus Abe by the police in Port Harcourt continues to elicit reactions, another senator, Muhammed Ali Ndume, has alleged that his convoy was attacked by men of the Nigerian Airforce over the weekend in Borno State, where he had gone to sympathise with recent victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in Ardoko, Arbaku, Ngoshe, Pulka and other remote villages.
Ndume said he was just returning from Gwoza, where he went to present a letter of appointment to the Emir, Iddrisa Timta, who was to be upgraded to a first class emir and had reached Pulka village when the attack took place.
He told journalists that as the villagers lined the street to wave and cheer at him, suddenly, a bomb dropped from the skies and exploded causing his vehicle to skid off the road.
According to the senator, three other explosions followed as his convoy scampered for safety.
“Initially I thought it was the Boko Haram that were attacking us; we even thought it was some people waiving at us from the road side that detonated the bomb,” he said.
However, he said when his convoy eventually stopped; he was told by one of the army personnel escorting him that the bombs were from the Airforce.
Ndume said they quickly ran to a military base close by to intimate them of the incident.
“At the military base, the soldiers there tried to establish communication with the pilot of the jet but could not get across and after some minutes they said that it might be an operational blunder from the Nigerian Airforce,” he narrated.
But Ndume, who was not satisfied with this explanation, wondered why the Airforce pilot would fire four straight bombs at a moving convoy without bordering to verify with ground forces.
The lawmaker said the attack shows clear unprofessionalism on the part of the military and suggests that some of the victories over insurgents which it had announced in the past may have actually been cold blood murder of innocent citizens.
“I thank God for sparing my life; I could have been dead or members of convoy too would have been killed, and when the military say it was a blunder, only their story would have been heard, perhaps there wouldn’t be any other person to speak for me,” he said calling for more investigation into the matter.
Ndume had been arrested and detained in 2011 on the suspicion that he had links with members of the Boko Haram sect.
He was later arraigned before a federal high court in Abuja on terrorism charges and was accused of sponsoring members of the group, among other offences which he denied.
The Court of Appeal on December 3, 2013 struck out a motion by the senator to set aside the ruling of the trial judge, who admitted in evidence DVDs containing alleged conversation between him and spokesman of the Boko Haram sect, Ali Konduga.