The undying Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria is currently compounding the many headache of the Buhari administration with the latest attack on farmers threatening to throw the country into a severe humanitarian crisis in terms of food need.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Nigeria (OCHA) says it is the deadliest attack on civilians this 2020 by the terrorists in the bleeding North-East axis of Nigeria.
While OCHA is saying no fewer than 110 Nigerians were slaughtered by Boko Haram on Saturday, farmers from Borno State are saying that the brutal murder of over 43 farmers in the state by Boko Haram will worsen the agricultural instability in the state.
According to them, the number of farmers massacred in the attack could be more than 43, as many persons were still missing.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is condemning in the strongest terms, the gruesome beheading of 43 innocent farmers by insurgents in Zabarmari, Borno.
PDP is describing the act as extremely wicked, devilish and must not be left unaddressed.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement says the party notes with pain that this horrific killing of compatriots comes as yet another of the recurring horrid testament and badge of failure of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to secure the country and guarantee the safety of lives and property in our country.
According to the opposition party, ‘’indeed, our party is distressed by the escalated killing and maiming of innocent Nigerians by insurgents, bandits and marauders, who have continued to ravage and pillage our communities, while the lazy and lethargic Buhari administration continues with its lip service, rhetoric and false performance claims.’’
The party is particularly disturbed because of the failure of the Buhari Presidency to take decisive action despite series of concerns raised by Borno Governor, Baba Gana Zulum, of security compromises in the state.
‘’The Buhari administration appears helpless while our national security structure under President Buhari seems to have collapsed. Our nation appears to be on auto pilot with no one in charge while the ship of state continues to drift.
‘’All our nation gets from the Buhari Presidency is that ‘Mr. President is shocked’, ‘Mr. President is saddened’, ‘Mr. President regrets’ and such lame responses without any decisive policy direction or directive to definitively tackle the situation at hand, leading to escalation of killings in our country.
‘’Such attitude by the Buhari administration has continued to embolden insurgents to the extent that they now attack military formations, convoys of state governors and engage in wanton beheading of our compatriots.
‘’It is distressing that despite this sorry situation, Mr. President, who promised to lead from the front, has receded into the safety of Aso Presidential villa and refused to act on the consistent demands of Nigerians to rejig the national security architecture and replace the service chiefs with more capable hands to affectively tackle our security challenges’’, PDP said.
It is, therefore, charging President Buhari to stop his unhelpful rhetoric. He should sit up and take actions that will safeguard the lives of Nigerians who have been subjected to all manners of mental and physical torture under this incompetent administration.
‘’Mr. President should immediately move to Zabarmari in Borno, empathize with the families of the victims and lead from the front in restoring security in the area. PDP commiserates with the government and people of Borno, and urge Nigerians to remain at alert particularly in providing useful information for our security agencies in this fight against insurgency in our land’’, the party said.
In a statement, the Borno farmers said the death of 43 rice farmers who were killed on Saturday while harvesting their crops at Garin-Kwashebe rice field, about 20km north of Maiduguri.
The statement signed by the Managing Director, Wal-Wanne Group, Abiso Kabi, said the sad incident would not only cause instability in the zone, but would lead to poverty and make the people to be over-dependence on aid.
Kabi said the Koila Agro-Allied Nigeria Limited was the most affected company, as it lost many of its farmers to the attack.
He called on the Federal Government to recruit more persons into the civilian joint task force to boost security in the state.
He said, “about 43 persons have been buried but we are not sure these are the exact numbers that are dead because some people are still missing. We are tired of the situation, just when we thought we have got our farmlands back to support agricultural development and fight hunger in the country, we keep waking up to sad events.
While Kabi called on the government to come up with measures that would enhance public confidence in the security and intelligence agencies, he adds, “we can’t continue to go out to our farmlands and risk being killed by the insurgents. We may be facing severe food security crisis due to the destructive activities of bandits who are not only destroying farms but also killing farmers.”
Edward Kallon, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the country described the attack the deadliest attack on civilians this year.
“I am outraged and horrified by the gruesome attack against civilians carried out by non-state armed groups in villages near Borno State capital Maiduguri,” Kallon said in a statement.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added.
Initial tolls indicated 43 killed in the massacre. But Kallon, citing “reports that several women may have been kidnapped”, called for their immediate release.
Some locals blamed the attack on Boko Haram fighters, but Bulama Bukarti, an analyst with the Tony Blair Institute, said rival group the IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) were more active in the area.
“ISWAP is the likely culprit,” he tweeted.
Kallon, in his statement, said: “The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year.
“I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” he added.
The violence centred on the village of Koshobe near the Borno state capital Maiduguri, with assailants targeting farm workers harvesting rice fields.
One pro-government anti-jihadist militia said the assailants tied up the labourers and slit their throats.
Kallon said the assailants — “armed men on motorcycles” — also targeted other communities in the area.
“Rural communities in Borno State are facing untold hardships,” he added, calling for more to be done to protect them and to head off what he said was a looming food crisis there.
Borno Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum attended the burial Sunday in the nearby village of Zabarmari of 43 bodies recovered on Saturday, saying the toll could rise after search operations resumed.
The victims included dozens of labourers from Sokoto state in north-western Nigeria, roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) away, who had travelled to the northeast to find work, it said.
Six were wounded in the attack and eight remained missing as of Saturday.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has also condemned in the strongest terms, the killing of rice farmers in Zabarmari, Borno by Boko Haram insurgents.
Gbajabiamila, who expressed sadness over the killings of the innocent rice farmers, said the incident has once again brought to the fore the need for more military action against the terrorists.
He said it was unfortunate that at a time the country was focusing on self-sufficiency in rice farming, about 50 of the farmers were killed in a most gruesome manner.
In a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker commiserated with the families of the killed farmers, the people and government of Borno State over the sad incident.
The Speaker said the House is determined and ready to provide all necessary support, including the ongoing budgeting process to ensure that funds are allocated for the security agencies to carry out their mandate of wiping out the terrorists.
“It’s unfortunate that about 50 of our countrymen lost their lives to the barbaric and inhuman action of the insurgents at this time.
“This incident is one too many for us as a country. Here were innocent citizens going about their lives of looking for their daily bread to cater for their families. But are murdered in a most gruesome manner.
“Their lives should not go in vain. This should call for more action from our military. As a House, we are ever ready to give them all the necessary support, especially through budgetary allocation, to deal decisively with the insurgents.
“My heart goes out to the families of the murdered farmers”, the Speaker said.