Despite this, Obama envoy Samantha Power did not refer to Nigeria when she spoke about religiously motivated violence in Africa. It doesn’t matter to Obama or to the world “human rights community” unless the victims are Muslims. Christians getting killed in Nigeria? Pah! Who cares? At least there wasn’t an outbreak of “Islamophobia”!
When the onslaught by Boko Haram began sometime in 2009, not many had thought that the attacks would assume such a murderous dimension as it is today.
Of all the attacks perpetrated by suspected members of the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, in the North Eastern part of the country, one that has remained in the minds of people is the February 25, 2014 attack on the pupils of Federal Government College, Buni Yadi in Yobe State.
In the attack that lasted several hours, no fewer than 59 students were slaughtered by the sect members while some of the victims were burnt to ashes.
In what appeared as the height of cruelty, the Islamic sect members arrived the College at about 2am and set the locked hostels, where the students slept, on fire, before shooting and slitting the throats of those who tried to climb out of the windows.
A teacher in the school was reported to have said that the sect members hurled explosives and fired guns into one of the hostels. When the pupils were trying to climb out of the windows, they were caught and slaughtered like sheep by the terrorists while some had their throats slit. Those who attempted to run away were gunned down.
The insurgents burnt down all the 24 buildings and staff quarters in the school before attacking the students. Reports had it that the onslaught lasted several hours.
A Junior Secondary School 3 student, Aliyu Ayuba, who fled the scene with a bullet in his back, said the assailants who were young men and boys in military uniforms and plain clothes, ordered the students to gather in one room and started shooting sporadically. Aliyu added that his roommates were killed and some burnt inside the hostel.
The continuous killing of residents in the North Eastern part of the country by Boko Haram members has left no fewer than 1,614 persons dead in series of attacks by the Islamic group during the first quarter of the year.
The series of attacks by the sect have left many people dead, lives shattered, houses burnt with many rendered homeless, many are still missing and many people are living with varying degree of injuries. Notably, many Nigerians, including those in other parts of the country now live with the unpleasant memory.
The victims of the attacks are of no particular age group, as infants, adolescents, teenagers and adults have all been massacred, alongside the aged.
While the onslaught lasted, there was no intervention by security forces that were deployed on emergency rule declared in the three most affected states; Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
A few days ago, commuters who were waiting to board buses going to the city centre at the popular Nyanya park, the border community between Abuja and Nassarawa State, were hit by a bomb blast detonated by the suspected Islamic sect.
No fewer than 89 lives were lost in the attack with over 200 severely injured.
Boko Haram, which means ‘No to western education,’ has shunned several moves by the government to broker peace with it. The group had demanded for, among other things, the enforcement of Sharia law in the Northern part of the country and the Islamisation of Northern Nigeria.
When in May 14, 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the three affected Northern states, namely; Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, and the subsequent deployment of military personnel to the states, he expressed optimism that the violence perpetrated by the group would soon end.
However, the onslaught has continued in increasing proportion in spite of the emergency rule. It is worthy of note that not even the state of emergency, appeals, threats and ultimatums given to the sect could tame the brutal attacks on the residents of the affected areas.
In continuation of their reign of terror, on February 15, gunmen believed to be Boko Haram Islamists, attacked and killed not less than 106 persons in Izghe village in Borno State. Reports had it that some of the residents were shot dead, others were slaughtered, as their throats were slit while the attackers chanted ‘Allah is great.’
Two days later, the number of casualties had risen to 146 when more corpses were recovered from nearby bushes.
Four days after the incident, the Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, on February 19, visited Bama community in Borno State, and a few hours after his departure, the Boko Haram sect killed 98 persons in the community at about 9pm.
This year’s attacks started on Thursday, January 2, when gunmen, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, invaded the Church of Christ of Nations in Maiakworigold Maikatako village in Plateau State, and killed three worshippers, leaving 16 others wounded.
In further attacks on places of worship, on Sunday, January 28, suspected Boko Haram insurgents cut the throats of some worshippers during a church service, and they killed about 30 people in all in Waga Chakawa in Adamawa State.
Later in the evening, 51 persons and a soldier were killed in Kawuri area of the state, leaving several others with injuries. Eye witnesses added that some of the villagers went missing after the incident.
Also, the father of the Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Musa Kwankwaso, escaped death when unidentified gunmen attacked and killed three worshippers and left many others with injuries at a mosque in Kwankwaso town, Madobi Local Government Council of the state.
On Tuesday, February 11, 25 pupils of Government Girls Secondary School and Ashigar School of Business Administrative Studies were abducted when about 200 Boko Haram gunmen attacked and killed 67 residents of Konduga town in Borno State. More than two months after, the whereabouts of the students remain unknown.
On Wednesday, January 17, the onslaught by the Boko Haram members continued at Banki, a border town in Bama LGA of Borno State, where about 10 people were killed. Eye witnesses reported that the sect members went from house to house slitting their victims’ throats.
No fewer than 350 persons were killed on Friday, March 14 in a clash between Boko Haram insurgents and the Special Forces in Maimalari, Borno State. Saturday PUNCH learnt that the dead included insurgents and their members who were in detention at the military premises.
Findings by Saturday PUNCH revealed that apart from the onslaught by the Boko Haram, not less than 630 persons have been killed in attacks by suspected gunmen and Fulani herdsmen in the northern part of the country.
On January 7, no fewer than 33 people were reportedly killed and 25 others injured when gunmen suspected to be Fulani cattle herdsmen struck at Shonong in Bachit District, Plateau State. The incident also left about 40 houses torched.
Still on the gunmen’s visit, on February 6, more than 22 persons were also feared killed around 2am when unknown gunmen, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, attacked Mavo village, in Wase LGA of Plateau State.
In another development, February 20 witnessed another bloodbath as 13 people were killed when unknown gunmen launched an attack on Rapyem village in Plateau State around 1am.
On February 22, no fewer than 29 people were killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Barkin Ladi LGA of Plateau State.
Findings by our correspondent also revealed that many other deaths have put the death toll, on record, in the first three months of the year at 2,596.
Not less than 95 people have died of cholera, 23 died in fire incidents, at least five persons reportedly committed suicide, about 46 water-related accidents, eight persons, including a pregnant woman and her child, died of electrocution in Lagos and Kwara States respectively while 18 graduates lost their lives in a recruitment exercise conducted by the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Of the total deaths from attacks by Boko Haram in the first quarter of the year, about 1,262 persons have been killed in Borno State. Also, not less than 177 persons have been killed in Adamawa State, while the recent bombing of Nyanya park in Abuja-Nassarawa border claimed 89 lives with scores injured.
Yobe State, within the specified time, has had 79 deaths, out of which 59 were slaughtered and burnt alive while some were shot dead. Jigawa State also had a total of seven deaths.
Findings also showed that hundreds of people sustained varying degrees of injuries; some residents of the affected areas went missing and had not been found till date while the remaining ones alive are living in fear.
However, the Special Task Force claimed that it had killed about 149 suspected members of the Boko Haram sect in series of raid and attacks.
Till date, so many lives could not be accounted for, as some people went missing, some dead bodies were lost in bushes, some others were abducted and some were burnt beyond recognition.
The recent abduction of over 100 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on Monday April 14 is another attack on innocent lives which has been condemned by national and international bodies and individuals.
With over 2,596 deaths in the first three months of the year, security experts and a cross section of Nigerians who spoke to our correspondent called on the government to put in more efforts to bring an end to the insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country.