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Zabarmari attack: Borno governor wants foreign mercenaries back

Buhari should engage the services of the mercenaries to clear the entire Sambisa forest.

Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State on Monday presented six demands to President Muhammadu Buhari, including recruitment of foreign mercenaries to help tackle Boko Haram terrorists.

Zulum made the demands when he granted audience to a federal government delegation led by Senate President Ahmad Lawan, which was in Maiduguri on a condolence visit over the Saturday’s killing of 43 farmers by suspected Boko Haram members in rice fields.

Many farmers were killed while harvesting their rice around Koshobe, Marrabati, and Hammayya villages near Zabarmari of Jere Local Government Area, less than 25 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

Edward Kallon, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria had put the number of those killed at 110, a figure kicked by the military high command even as humanitarian workers said some of the locations of the attacks were still not accessible to retrieve corpses.


Bring mercenaries back

Zulum requested for foreign fighters less than 24 hours after President Buhari said he had given the Nigerian military forces all they required to tackle Boko Haram fighters.

Daily Trust reports that thousands of military operatives including the army, navy, air force; as well as the police, DSS, civil defence, customs and immigration personnel, are currently in the North East, especially in Borno and Yobe States over the security challenges there.

Zulum’s call on Monday was reminiscent of what happened ahead of the 2015 general election when the then President Goodluck Jonathan, bowing to pressure, sort for the support of mercenaries from South Africa.

Jonathan also entered into an agreement with the Chadian President, Idriss Deby, whose troops equally participated in the clearing of the shores of the Lake Chad region, while the South African mercenaries confronted Boko Haram fighters around the Sambisa forest and the Mandara Mountains, a development that paved the way for elections in the affected locations.

It was learnt that after Jonathan left, the special agreement with Chad was not renewed while the South African mercenaries were also asked to go.

Some security experts noted that the new Buhari administration at the time should have swallowed its pride and allow “the partnership” between Nigeria, South Africa and Chad to decimate the terrorists and bring back peace to the North East and beyond, saying “severing” the relationship was partly responsible for the lingering problem.

Borno National Assembly Members during their condolence visit to Zabarmari in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State on Monday, over the killing of 43 rice farmers by Boko Haram insurgents

Zulum after listening to the federal government delegation, including all the promises of bringing an end to the over a decade-long Boko Haram insurgency, reeled out his six demands, which he said would bring a final solution to the problem.

According to him, “One of our recommendations as possible solutions to end the insurgency is the immediate recruitment of our youths into military and paramilitary services to complement the efforts of the Nigerian forces.

“Our second recommendation is to engage the services of our immediate neighbours, especially the government of Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic, in clearing the remnants of Boko Haram hiding in the shores of the Lake Chad.

“Our third recommendation is for him (Buhari) to engage the services of the mercenaries to clear the entire Sambisa forest.

“Our fourth recommendation is for him to provide the police and the military, with armed resistant armoured personnel carriers and other related equipment.

“We are also soliciting the support of the federal government to support the Borno State repatriation of our displaced persons currently residing in Cameroon and the Niger Republic.”

While soliciting for infrastructure, Zulum noted that the Boko Haram insurgency lingered for over 11 years because efforts have not been well coordinated to yield the desired result.

“If the federal can fix the bad roads in Borno and the North-east, the insurgency would be reduced by 60 per cent,” he said.


Take the fight to Boko Haram – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday ordered the Nigerian Armed Forces to take the fight to the insurgents continuously until the terrorists are rooted out.

President Buhari announced the move in a message delivered on his behalf by the Senate President Lawan’s led delegation to Borno. Lawan said Buhari had assured that he had committed himself to make more resources available to the military to prosecute the war.

According to Lawan, “he promised to work closely with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.

“Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of the people. Everything is secondary when security is at a stake.

“As we mourn the loss of our sons in Zabarmari, the armed forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but continuously until we root out the terrorists,” Lawan said.

The president described the massacre of the farmworkers as the worst form of “senseless, barbaric and gruesome murder.”

Buhari, who voiced the condolences of the government and people of Nigeria gave assurances of his continuous commitment to fighting insurgency and all forms of insecurity in Borno State and all over Nigeria.

He lauded Governor Babagana Zulum for his leadership in running the affairs of the state.

And during a visit to Zabarmari and the Shehu of Borno, Lawan described the attack on them as “senseless and barbaric.”

Members of the delegation included the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari; Ministers of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello; Communications and Digital Economy, Ali Pantami; Minister of State for Agriculture, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno, and the Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the President, Garba Shehu.


US condemns Borno killings

The United States on Monday condemned the Saturday’s killings of rice farmers in Borno. The US, according to a statement from its mission in Abuja, offered its deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed or kidnapped.

“These abhorrent attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States stands with the Nigerian government and people as they fight to defeat terrorism and work to bring the perpetrators to justice,” it said.

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