Tanko Mohammed reporting from Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari and other Nigerians are in rage over the killing of 43 rice farmers and abduction of tens of others by Boko Haram terrorists in Zabarmari in Jere Local Government of Borno State, northeast Nigeria.
The news of the attack on the rice farmers which slipped in as a rumour was confirmed when the 78-year-old Nigerian leader publicly expressed grief over the incident that happened on Saturday, November 28, 2020.
The insurgents who have been on the rampage since 2009 were reported to also destroyed the rice plantation after killing all the farmers.
More than 35,000 people have been killed in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, the epicentre of the insurgency since 2009 and many social infrastructure destroyed, especially in Borno the seat of Lake Chad and share border with Chad, Cameroon and Niger republics.
In his verified twitter account, Buhari said: “I condemn the killing of our hardworking farmers by terrorists in Borno State. The entire country is hurt by these senseless killings. My thoughts are with their families in this time of grief. May their souls Rest In Peace.”
He said the government had supported the armed forces with materials and necessary support “to take all necessary steps to protect the country’s population and its territory”.
Distraught governor of the state, Prof. Babagana Zulum, has asked to see the corpses of the victims before they were buried on Sunday.
The farmers had gone to the farm in Kwashabe village in Zabarmari district of Jere Local Government Area to harvest their rice before they met their death.
The Civilian Joint Task Force, a body assisting the military in tackling Bokor Haram and other terrorists in the region, reported that the farmers were gathered before the assailants shot many of them at close range and beheaded others.
Reports say that the victims were as labourers hired from Sokoto State and that the soldiers were on the trail of the terrorists.
Also on Saturday, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, declared that under no circumstance would the army allow the occupation of any part of Nigeria by terrorists.
The Defence Headquarters said the Air Force had knocked out more hideouts of terrorists in Borno State.
He spoke at the 62nd passing out parade of the Nigerian Military School, where he pledged adequate security for Nigerians as they go about their businesses.
“I assure all Nigerians that the Nigerian Amy is committed to the unity and indivisibility of this country and would do everything humanly possible to ensure that no part of this country is occupied by criminal elements,” he said through the Army’s Chief of Administration, Major General U.S. Yakubu.
He said: “The Army, as you all know, has been involved in various operations and exercises in support of civil authority. To mention particularly is the maintenance of internal security in addition to its constitutional role of protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria.’’
Northern elders have joined their Southern counterparts asking President Buhari to sack the service chiefs without further delay because they were no longer useful.
Meanwhile, Chief spokesman of Defence Headquarters Maj-Gen John Enenche, said in Abuja that the air raids were conducted on Friday at Ngwuri Gana, along the Gulumba Gana-Kumshe axis and Tumbuma Baba on the fringes of Lake Chad, both in the Northern part of Borno.
He said the air strikes were conducted under a new subsidiary Operation tagged “Wutar Tabki II”.
In its reaction to the killing of the 43 farmers, Amnesty International in a tweet condemned the targeting of civilians, and described it as contempt for human life urged Boko Haram to “end its campaign of vicious and unlawful killings of civilians”.
The Personal Assistant to Buhari on New Media, Mr Bashir Ahmad said on Sunday “The entire country is hurt by the senseless killing of the hardworking farmers by Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State’’
Nigeria’s former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described the incident as heart-breaking and said: “Words fail me. The lives of our citizens should be worth much more than this.’’
He said that the rejig of the nation’s security architecture is long overdue.
Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, former education minister now an activist and politician, told Buhari, “Imagine. 43 of your citizens were just beheaded within the territory you swore an oath to defend and you are telling us “I am hurt” .
“Please don’t be hurt. Be hot in your pursuit of justice for the dead.
Be hot against evil in the land.’’