[FULL STORY] At least 110 rice farmers killed in Borno village, UN says

By Wale Akinselure, Leon Usigbe, Kehinde Akintola, Isaac Shobayo with agency report

UP from the initial toll of 43 rice farmers killed at Koshebe village in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State by suspected Boko Haram insurgents on Saturday, the United Nations (UN) on Sunday said no fewer than 110 people were killed in the attack. 

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, as quoted by AFP News Agency, made this disclosure while giving an update on killings in the northeastern part of the country.

Although the victims lived in Zabarmari, a farming community in Jere Local Government Area which is famous for rice cultivation and local processing, the attack occurred at Koshebe village.

“No fewer than 110 civilians were killed in the North-East Nigeria attack. The weekend attack on a village in northeastern Nigeria blamed on the Boko Haram jihadist group left at least 110 dead,” Kallon said.

The disclosure by the UN coordinator was corroborated by the Initiative for Conciliation and Rights Protection (ICRP) which reported on Sunday that apart from over 40 farmers killed, many women employed to work on the Kwashabe Rice Farm were still missing after the attack.

A tweet by the group, @_ ICRP_, on Sunday, pointed out that 16 of those killed were discovered to be internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were resident at the farm centre in Maiduguri.

Meanwhile, the 43 rice farmers killed on Saturday were buried on Sunday amid wails by residents of Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.

The attackers were reported to have first tied up the farmers working on the rice field on Saturday morning before slitting their throats. Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum, who attended the burial of the farmers, said residents informed him that the death toll could be as high as 70, because some of the farmers were still missing.

He noted the imperative for Nigeria to forge closer cooperation with its neighbouring countries so as to defeat insurgency that had ravaged the nation for over a decade. He pleaded with the Federal Government to recruit more indigenes of the state into the military and other security agencies to combat the insurgency.

On his part, Zulum said his administration would recruit more hunters and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) to complement the efforts of the military and other security agencies.

“We will restrategise and ensure total domination of the Zabarmari, Gonglong, Koshebe axis of the state.

“We will recruit more CJTF and hunters so that our people can take the fight to all nooks and crannies of this area.

“We appeal to the Nigerian Army and Air Force to strengthen their support, with a view to defeating the insurgents,” Zulum said.

Furthermore, Zulum observed that the insurgents who killed the farmers were from Wuda-Taya Game Reserve area. He noted that there was the need to raid the area to save the farming community known for mass production of rice. Chairman of rice sellers in the area, Mallam Hassan Zabarmari, called for more security presence to protect farmers.

“We are expecting bumper harvest but with this incident, we are afraid to go to our farm in Koshebe village which has been vacated.

“The insurgents have even started burning our farms. We need help,” Hassan pleaded.

I’ve given armed forces all they need to protect citizens —Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed grief over the killing of farmers on rice fields at Zabarmari, describing the terrorist killings as insane. This was contained in a statement issued on Saturday night by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), Garba Shehu, in Abuja. It said the president affirmed that he had given to the armed forces all the support they needed to protect citizens and the country.

It quoted the president as saying: “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.”

Gbajabiamila calls for more military action against insurgents

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila on Sunday expressed sadness over the killings of the innocent rice farmers, in a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi. The Speaker said the incident had once again brought to the fore the need for more military action against the terrorists.

He said it was unfortunate that at a time the country was focusing on self-sufficiency in rice farming, about 50 of the farmers were killed. The speaker said the House was determined and ready to provide all necessary support, including the ongoing budgeting process to ensure that funds were allocated for the security agencies to carry out their mandate of wiping out the terrorists.

Northern govs condemn killings

The Northern Governors’ Forum says it is appalled by the killing of the rice farmers In a statement, chairman of the forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, said the country was deeply saddened over the killing of the innocent rice farmers who committed no crime, except to go to the farm to earn their living.

He said the tragic incident was a setback to the efforts of Nigeria to attain domestic sufficiency in rice production as well as food security. He said the forum had consistently worked with the Federal Government, security agencies and local support groups to ensure that farmers were protected in order to enable them to carry out farming activities. Lalong said in spite this condemnable act, the forum would not relent in its support to security agencies to deal decisively with the terrorists and other criminals.

Testament of Buhari’s failure —PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemned in strong term, the gruesome killing of the innocent rice farmers by insurgents. It noted that the recurrent wanton killings of innocent Nigerians is “a testament and badge of failure” of the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration to secure the nation and guarantee the safety of lives and property in the country.

This was contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, which also described the act as extremely wicked and devilish, saying it must not be left unaddressed.

The PDP stated that it was particularly disturbed because of the failure of the Buhari Presidency to take decisive action despite series of concerns raised by the Borno State governor about security compromises in the state. The statement added: “The Buhari-led administration appears helpless while our national security structure under President Buhari seems to have collapsed. Our nation appears to be on auto pilot with no one in charge, while the ship of state continues to drift.

“All our nation gets from the Buhari Presidency is that ‘Mr President is shocked’, ‘Mr President is saddened’, ‘Mr President regrets’ and such lame responses without any decisive policy direction or directive to definitively tackle the situation at hand, leading to escalation of killings in our country.

FG, federal troops can no longer be relied upon to protect North —CNG

The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) reacted to the massacre of innocent farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram, saying the Federal Government and federal troops can no longer be relied upon to protect northern communities. This was as it declared it was apparent that northern Nigeria had been abandoned. Spokesperson of the Coalition, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said on Sunday that “the Federal Government and federal troops can no longer be relied upon to protect northern communities.

“The president and federal troops keep telling us that they are doing something about the mounting insecurity, but by now, all northerners must have realised that our region has been abandoned, at the mercy of a rampaging insurgency that is continuously wasting the greatest asset of the North – its population, and weakening it politically and pauperising it economically.

“All northerners are by now alarmed at the rising insecurity of communities and their property in the North with the escalation of attacks by bandits, rustlers and insurgents leaving the only conclusion that the people of the North are now completely at the mercy of armed gangs, who roam towns and villages at will, wreaking havoc.

“It is no longer in doubt that the current administration of Muhammadu Buhari and state governors have lost control of the imperatives of protecting people of the North, a constitutional duty they swore to uphold.

“The situation is getting worse literally by the day, as bandits and insurgents take advantage of the huge vacuum in the administration political will and capacity to act. They exploit this with disastrous consequences on communities and individuals.

“We categorically declare it unacceptable for the people of the North to continue living under this level of exposure to criminals who attack, kill, maim, rape, kidnap, burn villages and rustle cattle, while the president and security chiefs issue threats and promises that have no effect,” Suleiman said.

Borno farmers cry out, ask govt to intervene

Farmers in Borno State have appealed to the Federal Government to take proactive security measures that will put an end to the continuous attacks on farmers in the state. The farmers said the attacks had made life unbearable for them. They also said the crime must not be left unaddressed.

This was made known in a statement made available to journalists on Sunday while reacting to the killing of 43 rice farmers by suspected members of the Boko Haram on Saturday.

The statement, signed by the Managing Director WalWanne Group, Dr Abiso Kabir, said the sad incident would not only cause instability in the zone, but would also lead to poverty and make the people to be overdependent on aid if proactive measures were not taken to bring an end to the killings. Dr Abiso explained that Koila Agro Allied Nigeria Limited was the most affected company, as it lost its farmers to the attack. He called on the Federal Government to recruit more people into the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), so as to put an end to insecurity.

He, however, said the government should also establish series of measures to enhance public confidence in the security and intelligence agencies. “We may be facing a severe food security crisis due to the destructive activities of bandits who are not only destroying farms, but also killing farmers,” he added.


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