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444 deaths in 39 days: Boko Haram, more daring, more heartless

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By Luka Binniyat

Apart from the documented 444 murdered victims, hundreds of wounded persons and thousands newly displaced, all    from a surprising fresh onslaught by Boko Haram on scores of communities and towns in at least six northern states of Nigeria, the questions on the lips of Nigerians monitoring the carnage would all meet at some point.  Was the inaugural speech of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015 in which he promised to stamp out Boko Haram shortly, just a brilliant prose with no work plan for execution?

Health officials carry the body of a victim  of a suicide bomb attack out of an ambulance in  Potiskum, in northeast Nigeria's Yobe State, on June 15, 2015. Ten people were killed in twin suicide bombings in Potiskum, northeast Nigeria, a police source and a civilian vigilante assisting the military against Boko Haram told AFP on June 15. Eight vigilantes were killed in the first blast in the Igwanda area of the city, while two died in the second outside a tavern and brothel in the Dorawa area. AFP PHOTO

Was his diatribe on the terrorists and    his    renewed pledge to route the insurgents mere bravado; a  politically-right outing to    woo everyone as the messiah, while knowing deep inside him he had no such capability?

Many of the residents who may have been inspired by the president’s speech to return to the war ravaged  village of the North-East, especially in Borno State, only to narrowly escape renewed violence may be wondering if Buhari spoke in good faith.

But those who still have faith in the president are wont to argue that it is too early to expect the man to wipe out a six-year-old orgy of murder in less than two months. They are likely also going to argue that those in opposition to the ruling APC are using the tragedy for political advantage. Ironically, it was the inability of the last government to cage Boko Haram that helped to swing winning votes in favour of the former, the opposition APC.

Meanwhile, there is no running from the fact that eradicating Boko Haram within the days that Buhari has been in power would be too ambitious a project in scope and content given what the President met on ground.

The most worrying factor, however, is that instead of ebbing, the deaths and destruction    caused by Boko Haram seem to be galloping compared to the pre-May 29 era.

This is despite the moving of the military command to Maiduguri, Borno State capital and epicentre of the violence which has so far claimed estimated 100,000 lives since the move by Boko Haram to declare Nigeria an Islamic Caliphate started in 2009..

But, Boko Haram is not only the group causing blood and tears to flow, even though many thought the situation ought not to get worse, given the hope Buhari inspired in the suffering communities, especially in the Middle Belt, when he came on board.

From Benue to Nasarawa, Plateau and Kaduna, the tales of night marauders stalking sleeping communities and killing defenceless citizens remain a daily occurrence.

Senator Danjuma La’ah, representing Southern Kaduna at the Senate,  penultimate week, addressed a press conference in Kafanchan, 180 km south of Kaduna metropolis, to register his displeasure with the state of security in his zone. La’ah, the only senator on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from the North-North-West Zone, said: “After several days of silence from the government of Kaduna State over the most recent killings of law abiding natives of   Southern Kaduna, I have decided to make public my resentment over the development.

“On the 5th  June, 2015, Ayagan village in Bajju Chiefdom in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State was invaded by well armed men. Four people were killed and several others injured when the invaders fired into a crowd of mourners, unprovoked.

“Till date, no culprit has been caught, nor has the state government made any announcement in its effort, if any, at apprehending the killers.

“On the 11th  June, 2015, one Tanko Nyam, 45, of   Kyari Daddu village in Jaba, LGA,   was ambushed by yet another set of gunmen and killed leaving behind his wife and five kids.

“Then on the 17th  of June, 2015, gunmen attacked the village of Katsak, Atakad Chiefdom, Kaura LGA, leaving behind nine dead bodies     and 13   persons   critically injured as early as 8am.

“This government was brought to power by a legitimate election from the electorate who are expecting a dramatic improvement on their security and general well-being. While, I acknowledge the fact that the government   is still young on the seat, it cannot claim ignorance or destitute of ideas on what to do in circumstances like this”.


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