- Military was aware of planned attack -Villager
- 110 killed, says UN
Governor Babagana Zulum yesterday wept during the funeral prayers and burial of 44 out of about 70 famers slaughtered by Boko Haram in their farms at Koshebe village in Zabarmari ward of Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.
Zabarmari village, a famous rice cultivation and processing community, is 20 kilometres from Maiduguri while Koshebe village, where the incident occurred, is four kilometres from Zabarmari.
Thirteen of the slaughtered famers were from Zabarmari, five from Baga while the remaining were from Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states. The governor, who was emotionally torched by the incident, burst into tears while participating in the burial. In an interview with journalists shortly after the burial in Zabarmari, Zulum said it was disheartening that more than 40 citizens were slaughtered while they were working in their farmlands. He said: “Our people are in very difficult situation.
They are in two different extreme conditions – on one side if they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation. On the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents.
“This is very sad. We are still appealing to the Federal Government to ensure recruitment of more of our youths in the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and hunters into the Nigerian military and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) so that they can form part of the agro rangers that will protect farmers. We need many boots to protect farmlands and our youths understand the terrain.
We will not lose hope because we have to remain optimistic about ending the insurgency. “We sympathise with the people of Zabarmari over the unfortunate incident. We just witnessed the funeral prayers of 44 people and I was told that about 70 farmers were killed. We are going to have security chiefs with a view to restrategize. We are going to recruit more CJTF, strengthen and equip them to protect their communities.”
While appreciating the military for their efforts, the governor said: “We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to solicit for more support from our neighbouring countries of Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon, as well as international community, so that we will join forces to clear Boko Haram from fringes of Lake Chad, Sambisa and Mandara mountains.”
Zulum also condoled with the bereaved residents of Zabarmari. He said: “First of all, accept my deepest sympathy over this carnage, once again, that affects all of us and every human with conscience. I am told some people are still missing. We have been discussing with the military since yesterday, Insha Allah the remaining people will be traced soon.”
The Chairman, Rice Sellers’ Association, Alhaji Hassan Zabarmari, said: “On Saturday when our people were working in the farms, as early as 5:30a.m. some insurgents came and asked them to gather in one place that they wanted to talk to them.
After some time they said that the leader of the sect (Ameer) wanted to talk to them, they took them to one house at Koshefe a few kilometres away from here and started slaughtering them one after the other.
They did not know that they were being slaughtered, as they were asked to see the Ameer one after the other. “They killed all our young farmers and left two of our elderly farmers to come and relay the message at home.”
A vigilante from the area, who did not want his name in print, told New Telegraph that the killing was a revenge for the killing of their members that were arrested by the CJTF, vigilantes and the military. He added that they had an intelli gence report that Boko Haram was planning revenge and that they told the military but nothing was done about it. Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) has condemned the attack and killing of over 43 farmers by Boko Haram in Borno State.
The UN Country Representative, Mr. Edward Kallon, said in a statement issued to journalists in Maiduguri yesterday that the killing was against international laws. He said: “I strongly condemn this attack and any act of violence against innocent civilians and I firmly urge all actors on the ground to respect international laws and humanity. Rural communities in Borno State are facing untold hardships.
Helping them to farm land and rebuild livelihoods are amongst our priorities and the only way to avoid the looming food crisis in Borno State. “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.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack. In early afternoon of 28 November, 2020, armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields in Koshobe and other rural communities in Jere Local Government Area. Reports we are receiving are indicating these innocent farmers were the victims of this callous violence.
“I extend my sincere condolences to the families of the civilians who lost their lives in this atrocious attack. I also wish a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the incident. We have also received reports that several women may have been kidnapped. I call for their immediate release and return to safety.
“My thoughts are also with the rural communities in the area, who are shocked by the brutality of yesterday’s attack and fear for their safety.
The entire UN system and the humanitarian community working to provide life-saving and development assistance to the most vulnerable in Borno State is outraged by the incident.
Such direct attacks against innocent civilians jeopardise the ability for the most vulnerable people to survive the adversity they are facing, and which we are striving to alleviate.”
The UN Country Representative said the incident was the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. He added: “I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice.
It is unfortunately one of too many such attacks targeting farmers, fishermen and families who are trying to recover some livelihood opportunity after over a decade of conflict.”