Outrage has greeted Saturday’s killing of 43 farmers by Boko Haram insurgents in Zabarmari village of Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.
This is as tears flowed freely yesterday as Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, led kinsmen of the slain farmers and others to lay them to rest.
The farmers were killed at a rice plantation after which the insurgents destroyed their farms. Zulum, who addressed the villagers, said it was disheartening that more than 40 citizens were slaughtered while they were working in their farms. Like Zulum, sociocultural groups such as apex Igbo body,
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, pan Yoruba group, Afenifere and Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), among others, also condemned the gruesome murder of the farmers.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, which expressed anger over what it described as obdurate attitude of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government in heeding to wise counsel from well-meaning Nigerians and groups in stemming insecurity in Nigeria, said it was left speechless by the latest carnage in Borno State.
While commiserating with the good people of the state, Ohanaeze said it has become an exercise in futility and frustrating experience trying to advise President Buhari and his government.
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, who spoke with New Telegraph in Enugu, through his Special Adviser on Media, Chief Emeka Attamah, said the Federal Government, is perhaps, waiting for the country to be saturated with blood before it will act.
His words: “We have been talking about the insurgency, we have been talking about insecurity and we have been talking about the panacea to these things, but the government doesn’t want to listen. So, what do you want us to say again?
“Do we say, change the service chiefs? How many times have we said it? So, there is nothing more to say. They are on top of the situation, so let them continue being on top and let people be dying. By the time the country is saturated with blood, they will know what to do.”
Afenifere, which also frowned over the way the Buhari presidency is handling rising insecurity across the country, said that instead of taking practical and definite steps towards taming the effrontery of bandits and terrorists alike, the President has turned himself to be country’s “Lamenter-in-Chief.”
The group’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, who spoke with our correspondent, called for an immediate removal of the service chiefs, who according to him, no longer have nothing to offer the country as regards the war against insurgents and bandits.
Insisting that the continued stay in office by the service chiefs has dampened morale of military personnel, Odumakin said: “A first class monarch was killed in Ondo State and was followed with the killing of close to 50 farmers in Borno. Our President, who is supposed to be the Commander-in-Chief, has turned to the nation’s Lamenter- in-Chief.
“By now, the service chiefs ought to have been changed with a new security architecture formulated for the country. President Buhari should do everything to keep the country secured. Any government that cannot secure lives and property is a failed regime and a failed state.
“Presently, what we can see the military doing is killing peaceful protesters, who are holding flags and singing the national anthem. It is only those who are asking for good governance that they can go and kill, while they are encouraging bandits by holding negotiations with them.
“The continued overstay of the service chiefs is due to the President’s parochialism and sectionalism. But it is killing the morale in the armed forces.” The Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), which also berated President Buhari and the military for failing Nigerians, described the killings of the farmers as shocking and a horrendous mass murder.
Spokesman of the forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, told New Telegraph on phone that Boko Haram insurgents are winning the war against the soldiers, but urged Nigerians not to resign themselves to such fate.
He charged President Buhari and the military to take immediate steps more than ever before to deal with the menace, saying: “Boko Haram issue has gone beyond anything that anybody has imagined, so government needs to take very serious steps now more than any other time to deal with it.”
He added: “What happened is shocking. Just like so many other killings that have been going on in the country for a very long time now, what is important is that Nigerians must never resign themselves to this kind of situation.
We must never get used to living with mass murder on this scale. “President Muhammadu Buhari and the military are failing Nigerians and they need to do something seriously to improve the manner they respond to this. I feel sorry for the victims, I feel sorry for the more victims that may likely emerge.
“Government needs to improve the manner in which they secure the citizens because clearly, the citizens are not secured.
I know we are in a war with Boko Haram, but there must be something that could be done to reduce this kind of horrendous mass murder. “I am not a military personnel, but I know that we cannot continue to live in a situation where these people are winning the war and we are losing it; we can’t.
Something is wrong, so we need to look at what we are doing wrong in terms of protecting the citizens.”
The Northern Governors’ Forum, on its part, said the entire country is deeply saddened over the killing of the innocent rice farmers, who committed no crime, except to go to farm to earn a living.
Chairman of the forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, in a statement signed by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr. Makut Macham, further said that the tragic incident is a great setback to efforts by Nigeria to attain domestic sufficiency in rice production as well as food security.
He said the forum has consistently worked with the Federal Government, security agencies and local support groups to ensure that farmers are protected in order to enable them to carry out farming activities.
Lalong added that despite this condemnable act, the forum will not relent in its support to security agencies to deal decisively with the terrorists and other criminals.