By Stephen Ubanna
The prediction of Hajia Zainab Ahmed, by the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning that Nigeria will go out of recession by the end of this year or latest by the first quarter of 2021 which will consequently force down the high price of food stuffs especially locally produced rice as it is currently the situation, may turn out to be a mere wishful thinking if the recent killings of no fewer than 45, rice farmers in Borno State, north east of Nigeria, by suspected Boko Haram insurgents is anything to go by.
The ingenious act which is one among the mind-boggling killings by the Islamist Fundamentalists group, Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and bandits in the North North West in the past five years of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, was carried out on Saturday, November 29, in a rice farm in Garin Kwasheba, Zabamari , both prominent rice farming communities in Borno State.
The farmers met their untimely death while they were cultivating and harvesting their products, ironically the same day election into the local councils took place in the state after 12 years.
Although killings in Borno State by the Boko Haram fighters has been a frequent occurrence, but the latest killing of the farmers was said to be a direct fall out of the arrest of a member of the sect by the farmers the on Friday, November 27, 2020. The lone Boko Haram member is reported to have gone to the farmers and attempted to extort money from them before they over powered him, arrested him and handed him over to the Amy.
This is believed to have caused the Boko Haram insurgents to launch a reprisal attack on a broad day light, while the farmers were m harvesting their product.
This development of the farmers arresting the Boko Haram member who came to extort money from them, an act that is said to have been a frequent occurrence was confirmed by a member of the House of representative from the Jere federal constituency Ahmed Satomi which Garin Kwasheba community.
“Farmers and fishermen were killed in cold blood. Over 60 farmers were affected, but ‘’we only have so far received 44 corpses from the farms,”, he had said .
“A lone gunman, who was a member of Boko Haram came to harass the farmers by ordering them to give him money and also cook for him. While he was waiting for the food to be cooked, the farmers seized the moment he stepped into the toilet to snatch his rifle and tied him up,” he further said.
“They later handed him over to the security personel. But sadly, the security forces did not protect the courageous farmers. And in reprisal for daring them, the Boko Haram fighters mobilised and came to attack them on their farms.”
Malam Zabarmari, a leader of the rice farmers association in the state, who bemoaned the killing of the innocent rice farmers fears that the number of the dead may have reach 60.
Babagana Zulum, a Professor and governor of Borno state, who was present at the burial of the victims described the killings of the farmers ‘’as wicked, unwarranted and morally reprehensible as they were attacked while harvesting their products oblivious of the fate awaiting them’’. He noted that the callous method ‘’was consistent with other senseless killings in markets, religious worship centres, bus stations, schools, passenger vehicles and abattoirs whenever the terrorists strikes’’.
President Buhari as usual has expressed grief over the killings of the rice farmers who were buried on Sunday November 29, according to the Muslim tradition.
“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,” he said.
The Katsina sytate born Nigerian President said the government had given the armed forces everything needed “to take all necessary steps to protect the country’s population and its territory.”
Similarly, in solidarity with their counterpart, Zulum, the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, described the attack ‘’as obnoxious and unwarranted’’. The governors noted that the incident like as always the case had raised many questions about the insecurity situation in the country and the capability of the security agencies to rise to the occasion.
The governors expressed concern that the killings is degenerating to an alarming limit which has negatively the well- being of the state in particular and the country in gener
In furtherance of the out pour of grief over the gruesome killings of the farmers, a delegation of the federal government and that of the National Assembly on Monday paid a condolence visit to Governor Zulum.
The Federal government delegation included Ibrahim Gambari, a Professor, and Chief of Staff to the President, Mohhamed Bello, minister of the Federal Capital Terriory, FCT,, Mohammed Patami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Baba Shuri, Minister of state for Agriculture and Babagana Monguono, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA, to the President .
Also on the Presidential entourage to Borno state wereGarba Shehu, Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, while that of the National Assembly was led by Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President .Borno State has been the hotbed of insurgency in the past and now, but unfortunately, the atrocities which almost took the life of Governor Zulum recently has worsened rather than abating.
The killings has again call to question the functionality of the military in curbing the rising insurgency in the country, which again has raised question on the need to change the present service chiefs.
Chris Nwakoabia, a former Presidential candidate in 2019 election and an advocate of Good Governance frown at the senseless killings of farmers in Borno and other food basket of the nation like Benue. He said the mere fact that these farmers in the state have expectedly stayed away from farm due to the Boko Haram attack is going to worsen the prevalalent high cost of food stuff now being experienced in the country.
He wondered why the President if he is really concerned about the killings going on in the country has not deemed it fit to heed to the clarion call by concerned Nigerians to change the Service Chiefs who he said have over stayed their welcome, and the military and other security hierarchy need fresh injection.
But the military in their defense, blamed the locals in the affected areas in the North East especially for always failing to provide useful information to security agencies, which according to them would have been useful in taking a proactive measure to curb such attacks.
Army spokesman, John Enenche, a Major General, while reacting to the recent killings on behalf of the military, blamed the locals in the village for not cooperating with the military by reporting strange people they see in their communities to the military or other security agencies for prompt action.
He said the military are not in the villages and bushes where these terrorists emerge to strike but patrol the towns and streets. He said this lack of information to the military serving in the North East and other hot beds of insurgency has often led to the soldiers being ambushed.
However like Nwakoabia noted, the incessant killings of farmers in farming communities in various states by Boko Haram, bandits and herdsmen, many Nigerians fear is further going worsened the current food crises in the country ahead next farming season.