RECENTLY, five aid workers working with local and international humanitarian organisations who were earlier abducted by Boko Haram extremists in the troubled North-East region of Nigeria were executed by the terrorists after the alleged failure of the Nigerian government and the international bodies to pay the demanded ransom. According to media reports, the workers were from the Action Against Hunger, The International Rescue Committee, Rich International and the State Emergency Management Agency.
The executions have attracted condemnation from the United Nations and the international community. President Muhammadu Buhari has equally condemned the killings as expected, saying that he would bring an end to the vestiges of the Islamic terrorists in the troubled North-East region, and that the perpetrators of this atrocity would be brought to book. The president, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, sympathised with the families of the five aid workers and prayed that God would comfort them for the irreplaceable loss. While thanking the affected agencies for their continued dedication and service to the victims of Boko Haram in the North-East, he assured them that security agencies in the state would work closely with them to implement measures to ensure that no such kidnapping of their staff ever occured again.
The decade-long terrorism in the region has claimed millions of lives, and has shown no sign of abating. According to Edward Kallon, the UN representative in Nigeria, the global body has been horrified by the gruesome executions and the hopelessness which the numerous checkpoints on main routes in the region represent. Aside from blocking the passage of help and relief to the region, the checkpoints also make relief workers unduly vulnerable to the insane antics of the terrorists who regularly seize them for the purpose of threatening their respective principals for ransoms. Sadly, although President Buhari has vowed to end the activities of the remnants of the terrorists, they remain a thriving community, shedding blood at will. This situation has to change, and very fast too.
In any case, the continuing attacks by Boko Haram members have put the hypocrisy and deceit behind the country’s fight against terrorism in bold relief. It is almost as if there is a deliberate attempt to make light of the unwarranted deaths in the troubled zone. It is certainly troubling that aid workers striving to better the lots of Nigerians in the affected communities continue to get killed in the most horrible fashion, with their executioners being at vantage positions to demand ransoms and execute victims when they are not forthcoming. Knowing how deadly and bloodthirsty these terrorists have been over the years, there is nothing to suggest that their claims of non-receipt of ransoms in the instant case is even accurate.
The lives of aid workers are truly precious and the latest killings ought to engender a more holistic approach to fighting terrorism in the country, and the West African sub-region. The government needs to dislodge the terrorists’ sources of ammunition. It must also halt the recruitment of young and impressionable minds by these merchants of death and destruction. It must disrupt their lines of communication and enforce strict compliance with the rules by telecoms companies.
We join the world in mourning the deaths of these heroes of humanity and condemn the reprehensible and vicious acts of the terrorists. The Nigerian government should be more sincere in its fight against terrorism. It should make the country safer.
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