Pointing to the lack of capacity of the nigerian military to defeat terrorists who daily murder both civilians and the military in his state in particular, Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum on Monday urged the Federal government to recruit the services of foreign mercenaries in the fight against Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).
Zulum identified this in Maiduguri when a Federal Government delegation visited to commiserate with him on the murder of about 110 rice farmers on Saturday while harvesting their produce in Zabarmari, a village less than 20 kilometres from the state capital.
Zulum, while discussing with the 7-man delegation led by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan said it had become apparent that nigerian security forces were incapable of defeating the terrorists.
He also asked government to recruit Borno youths into military and paramilitary services and also engage the services of Chad Republic and other neighbouring countries
Other conditions he gave for ending terrorism in the north east, included provi- sion of better equipment for the security forces like armed resistant armoured personnel carriers and other related equipment; and provision of infrastructure.
He insisted that the killing of the farmers and other attacks by the insurgents are avoidable occurrences if adequate support and in- frastructure had been provided for the northeast and the military.
“If the federal can fix the bad roads in Borno and the North-east, the insurgency would be reduced by 60 per cent.”
Earlier, a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu had earlier accused the farmers of failing to get permission from the military before venturing out of the capital to visit their farms.
In an interview with BBC on Monday, Shehu said “people need to understand what it is like in the Lake Chad area. Much of those areas have been liberated but there are a number of spaces that have not been cleared for the return of villagers who have been displaced,” he said.
“Ideally, all of these places ought to probably be allowed to pass the test of military clearance before settlers or even farmers resume activities on those fields.”
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He said although he was not blaming the farmers, he replied “the truth has to be said. Is there any clearance by the military which is in total control of those areas? Did anybody ask to resume activities? I have been told by the military leaders that they have not been so advised.”
We were abandoned despite calls for help —Villagers
However, representatives of the villagers disputed this, insisting that they alerted authorities over the presence of large members of the terrorist group in their area without any response.
A survivor, Abubakar Salihu told correspondents they foresaw danger after they arrested one of the Boko Haram terrorists and handed him to security operatives.
“We informed military beforehand that our members sighted Boko Haram in large numbers but nothing was done about it.
“We need assistance; we need more weapons. We have youths who can volunteer to guard our farmers. Please for God’s sake” a farmer, Mallam Aliu Kome- kome.
Another rice farmer, Mohammed Alhaji said the victims were busy harvesting rice when the insurgents attacked them.
“it was a deliberate act to ensure that we do not harvest our farm produce. We need the Federal government to assist us and secure our lives,” he said.
Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong while react- ing on twitter said “I don’t believe for a second that Buhari wants to end Boko
Haram. When Buhari hates you, he doesn’t pretend. Ask IPOB and IMN. Buhari protested against the highhanded actions of the Jonathan regime against BH. BH nominated Buhari to represent them. Buhari has been pampering BH.”
Presidency’s reaction shows lack of empathy for victims —PDP
Reacting to the development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday said it was alarmed by what it described as reckless and bizarre attempt by the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency to rationalise the gruesome killing of 43 innocent nigerians by insur- gents in Zabarmari, Borno State.
The party, in a statement issued by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja, said the statement by the presidential spokesman, which appeared to blame the victims for their own death, showed insensitivity and lack of empathy on the part of the Federal Government.
the PDP said it was outraged by the Buhari pres- idency’s claim that the farmers were killed because they failed to get clearance before going to their farms; “a statement, which is also an admission that the Buhari-led administration has been overwhelmed by terrorists and can no longer guarantee our compatriots a normal life.”
The party said: “It is weird, reprehensible and repulsive that the Buhari presidency now seeks to turn itself into a mouthpiece of terrorists by this subtle attempt to rationalise the killing of innocent and hardworking Nigerians.
“This unpatriotic stance smacks of support for acts of terrorism and mindless killing of our compatriots by a government whose Commander-in-Chief had promised Nigerians to lead the battle against insurgents from the front.
“our party is forced to hold that attitude such as the unpatriotic remark of the Buhari presidency embolden insurgents in their ceaseless attacks on our country.
“Such also provides further insights into the escalation of acts of terrorism in our coun- try in the last five years.
“It is, indeed, shocking that the Buhari presidency has graduated from making bogus claims of having degraded terrorism to the em- barrassing point of blaming unprotected and helpless Nigerians for falling victims of terrorist attacks. This, to say the least, is the height of leadership failure of the lazy, lethargic and incompetent Buhari-led administration.
“It is, therefore, insensitive for the Buhari presidency to have shown this huge lack of empathy, which amounts to a spat on the grave of the slain as well as an unpardonable slap to the faces of the generality of mourning nigerians.
“Perhaps, this also informs why their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has not deemed it fit to have a word of lamentation for the death or consolation for the bereaved.”
PDP called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately withdraw the “offensive statement” by his presidency and apologise to Nigerians, particularly the people of Borno State.
PDP also restated its call to the president to heed the demands by nigerians to rejig the nation’s security architecture as well as replace its service chiefs with more competent hands in the interest of the nation.
US condemns the killing
The United States (US) government has condemned the killing of no fewer than 43 rice farmers in Borno State.
The US, in a statement by the US Mission in Nigeria, on Monday commiserated with the families of the deceased, stating further that it will continue to support the nigerian government to bring perpetrators of the act to justice.
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms the abhorrent november 28 terrorist attack on Borno, Nigeria. The United States offers our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed or kidnapped.
“The craven attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States stands with the nigerian government and people as they fight to defeat terrorism and work to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the statement read.