On November 28, Nigerians woke up to hear the horrifying story of how Boko Haram members lined up 43 rice farmers in Zabarmari, a community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State and slit their throats.
Nigerians were still reeling over the shocking murders, when the United Nations (UN) announced that the number of those murdered was 110, not 43 as first mentioned. Amnesty International joined the UN to reveal that some people, including women, were still missing.
It was learnt that two weeks before the attack, suspected Boko Haram members had attacked the community, leaving sorrow, tears and blood. According to Reuben Abati, a journalist and an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Borno State has become a killing field.
He added: “The security situation in the north-eastern part of Nigeria is proving intractable, despite the Nigerian government’s repeated assurances that Boko Haram has been technically defeated and degraded. “The wanton killing in Zabarmari is a clear affirmation of the reality we live with: Nigeria has not defeated or degraded the terrorists, and if anything, the country’s security problem has worsened between 2015 and now.” Nigerians and international communities have condemned the killings.
The UN resident coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, 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.” Just as condemnations continued to rain, security experts and analysts have expressed their opinions on the dreadful act, proffering a way forward.
A former Assistant Director of the Department State Services (DSS), now a security consultant, Mr. Dennis Amachree, said the killing of the rice farmers was an unfortunate incident. This was even as he mentioned that the Nigerian military needed to be well funded for it to confront the insurgents and other security challenges confronting the nation. He said: “The killing of the rice farmers will lead to famine in Nigeria.
Rice, which is the most available food in the country, especially during Christmas, may become scarce. I also believe that was the instruction from the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) to Boko Haram, to cause hunger so as to lure more youths into its fold.
As a country, we have to re-strategise to fight and combat the insurgency. We have many security challenges we are battling, like banditry, herdsmen, militants and kidnappers and all in different geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
I think we need prayers in order to confront these security challenges.” According to him, what annoys him most is that whenever President Muhammadu Buhari speaks, he would stress that he has given the military and other security agencies all that is needed to fight the insecurity. Amachree said that he was surprised that the President was yet to sack the service chiefs and inject fresh and young soldiers into the Army.
Ge said: “The best thing that the Federal Government can do to tackle the insecurity in the North-East is to fund the military and other security agencies.” A human rights lawyer and President, Public Interest Lawyers’ League, Abdul Mahmud, also spoke on the massacre.
He said: “We’re dealing with an irresponsible country; our educational sector has collapsed and our universities have been under lock and keys for eight months now. We have a President, who nobody has seen in public since he was re-elected in 2019. We’re battling with banditry, kidnappers, herdsmen and militants and they have taken over the vast population of northern Nigeria. “We’ve been dealing with massacres since 2010 in Buniyadi, Konduga, Baga and Shiroro in Niger State. Also, many other communities have been taken over by the insurgents.
I was going through some dailies and the spokesperson for the President, Garba Shehu, said the farmers didn’t get security approval before going to the farms to harvest their crops. So, we have reached the level now, whereby if you want to go to your farm, you’ll have to get approval from the police, Army and other security agencies.
This is rubbish! It’s rubbish for those of us still alive to be blaming the dead.” Mahmud was unhappy that from Gombe, Zamfara, Adamawa, and Sokoto down to Yobe, there was no peace. He described the aforementioned places as ungovernable. According to him, most northern governors now prefer living in Abuja to their states because of insecurity. He asked: “When the chief security officers have fled the states, what do you expect the military and other security agencies to do? I believe it’s the right time for Nigerians to ask Mr. President to resign if he cannot secure the lives of the people he swore to protect.
“The annoying part is that we’re not even sure of the number of the farmers killed. The UN said 110 farmers, but Borno State government said they were still expecting more bodies. “I want to assure you that the killing of the farmers will bring famine to the North-East and the country as a whole.
We don’t even know which part is safe for us to live in. We are now refugees in our own father’s land! We all should rise and pray to God.” A security analyst, who is also the founder and publisher of the Chief Detective magazine, Mr. Dipo Kehinde, described the murder of the farmers as, “appalling.”
He said: “It’s like in this battle against insurgency; we’re taking a step forward and two backward. We’ve been having a reoccurrence of these killings. In December last year, in the midst of the festivities, people were killed.
It has now become a yearly ritual; every November and December for three years now, killings have been recurring. Last year in December, many people were killed while returning from cross over service.
Every December, there is usually so much bloodshed. The recurrences are so embarrassing and people are feeling more insecure. “When farmers cannot go to their farms anymore, for fear of being killed, it becomes a problem. Right now, people are too scared to go to their farm and the famine will not be limited to those in the North-East. Even those in the southern part of the country are also depending on the food from the North.
“The main responsibility of the government is to ensure security of lives and property, but the government has failed in this particular area.” On the way forward, Kehinde suggested that the government needed to get competent hands to battle and work against the Boko Haram insurgency. He added that the Nigerian government should seek international support to fight the insurgents.
“The changing of the security architecture should be the solution; those who are not capable should be dropped. The security apparatus should also be reengineered and those who are competent and can achieve results should be deployed.
There should always be a swift reaction from all the security agencies. Intelligence networks do not have to stay before action, because the insurgencies are moving against the government.
These insurgents have also tried to assassinate the Borno State governor. If the Federal Government cannot save us, then we need to cry out to those who can, even if they are not from Nigeria.
The Federal Government has failed us in terms of security. We need to have international cooperation in this fight. “The government needs to do more, especially since we are not seeing results.
The money spent on the battle against insurgency is not reflecting in what the military claimed to have achieved. We can also get support from other African countries. Boko Haram terrorists are operating across the borders. I think we need international cooperation in the fight against insurgency.
In my opinion, Nigeria is not doing enough,” Kehinde said. Another security analyst, Mr. Frank Oshanugor, said there was no way the insecurity in the country could stop if the country was not restructured. He added: “I have come to realise that restructuring is the only way for the country to survive.
The insecurity we are witnessing in the northern part of the country is as a result of lack of food and poverty. Those who are not educated have been turned to violent tools in the hands of the politicians. The insurgency has spread so wide that some people now see it as an avenue to make money from the government. The military, who are fighting, are also angry because they are not getting their allowances as at when due.
With restructuring, everything will be in order. “The Federal Government has shown enormous incapacity to meet up with the insecurity challenges confronting the country. We’ve been praying, but now we need action! If it were in a developed country, by now, with such a statement, the President would have been forced to resign.
For the Sultan of Sokoto to have said publicly that the North has become grounds for criminality says a lot. It shows that nobody is safe in Nigeria. The President should sack the service chiefs and bring in new young officers.”