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Execution of Khorsa, Liman: Outrage, as Red Cross, AI, others urge action from FG

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Sam Eyoboka, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Gabriel Ewepu & Luminous Jannamike
A
BUJA —Outrage, yesterday, trailed Monday’s execution of United Nations voluntary health worker, Hauwa Liman by Boko Haram as the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, Amnesty International, AI and International Christian Concern, ICC, urged the Federal Government to take immediate steps to ensure the release of other aid workers and Leah Sharibu still in the custody of the sect. This followed the killing of another health worker, Saifura Khorsa by the sect a month ago.

This is even as the Senate and House of Representatives asked the Federal Government to take necessary measures to secure the freedom of both Leah Sharibu and other surviving members of the ICRC being held hostage by the insurgents.

Members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) advocacy group take part in a protest in the Nigerian capital Abuja on October 16, 2018, following the killing of a kidnapped female Red Cross worker by Islamic State-allied Boko Haram jihadists. – Boko Haram jihadists have killed another kidnapped female aid worker in northeast Nigeria, the government said, a month after one of her colleagues was murdered. (Photo by Mudashiru ATANDA / AFP)

 

The position of the two arms of the National Assembly, came as Amnesty International, Senate President, Bukola Saraki; presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar; Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN and women lawyers, under the auspices of African Women Lawyers Association, AWLA, yesterday, condemned the killing of the aid workers, describing the act as barbaric and uncalled for.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with Mohammed Liman, father of Hauwa, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) midwife who was slain by Boko Haram terrorists.

Raising a point of order yesterday on the gruesome killing, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said “since the Senate is part of the federal government, it has become necessary for this chamber to look into the killing of the innocent lady by the Boko Haram terrorist group.”

Speaking further, Ekweremadu said senators should observe a two-minute silence in honour of the deceased aid worker, instead of the usual one minute prayer due to the way she was gruesomely murdered.

Ekweremadu asked that the upper Chamber condoled with Liman’s family and urged the federal government, through its agencies to immediately ensure the release of Leah Sharibu and the last International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC volunteer in Boko Haram captivity.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Dino Melaye, who took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for being incompetent in providing security for the citizens, cited examples of police reckless killing of a corps member, Nkechi Igwetu, in July and the recent killing of another woman, Anita Akpason.

According to him, the best way the Senate can look into the killing of Liman and rising spate of insecurity in the country is to summon the IGP to either appear before the committee of the whole or relevant standing committee of the Senate to explain the efforts being made by the Police to arrest the situation.

Melaye said: “This is beyond standing up and giving one minute silence. This is a time to invite the police.

‘’There is a need to carry out drug audit on police in Nigeria. The Senate should invite the Inspector-General of Police and ask why insecurity persists.”

Saraki

However, when the Senate President, Saraki cited the prayer for adoption, no lawmaker signified to second the additional prayer by Melaye to summon the IGP and it was subsequently rejected.

In his remarks, Saraki who condemned the murder of Liman by the Boko Haram insurgents, stressed the need for adequate security for humanitarian workers in crisis zones in the country.

He also charged the federal government to take necessary measures to secure the freedom of both Leah Sharibu and other surviving members of the ICRC being held hostage by the insurgents.

Saraki said: “Distinguished Colleagues, irrespective of the decision that we have taken, I believe that our committees on defence and security, as part of their own responsibilities, should engage with the security agencies to find out if there are other issues that need to be addressed in order to prevent a recurrence of such sad incident.

“As I said on the September 18, 2018, humanitarian workers, who go into troubled spots to alleviate people’s suffering, are some of the most courageous and selfless people on the planet. They are not a target.’’

He promised that the Senate would remain committed to working with the Armed Forces to find a lasting solution to the unlawful killings by insurgents and improve the security infrastructure.

He then implored the federal government to deploy every reasonable tool at its disposal to ensure the freedom of Leah Sharibu and many other people held captive by Boko Haram.

Founder of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) advocacy group, Oby Ezekwesili (L) is comforted by Aisha Yesufu, a member of the group, during a protest in the Nigerian capital Abuja on October 16, 2018, following the killing of a kidnapped female Red Cross worker by Islamic State-allied Boko Haram jihadists. – Boko Haram jihadists have killed another kidnapped female aid worker in northeast Nigeria, the government said, a month after one of her colleagues was murdered. (Photo by Mudashiru ATANDA / AFP)

In a similar fashion, the House of Representatives asked the Federal Government to urgently commence negotiations with the sect to rescue the remaining hostages, including Leah Sharibu.

It also urged the government to intensify efforts in collaborating with other countries to acquire advanced technology for terrorism information gathering and satellite full imagery devices that could help in the fight against terrorism and called on development partners not to relent in their aid and support for counter-terrorism in Nigeria.

The motion

The calls of the House were sequel to a motion, tiled “The Tragic Execution of Voluntary Health Workers, Saifura Khorsa and Hauwa Liman by Boko Haram Sect and the Urgent Need to Rescue the Remaining Health Worker, Alice Loksha in Captivity”, sponsored by Chike Okafor from Imo State.

While moving the motion, Okafor said it was unfortunate that Boko Haram went ahead to carry out their threat, despite the ongoing negotiations.

He said: “The House notes that on the 1st day of March, 2018, three selfless citizens of Nigeria who are voluntary health workers with the United Nations Children Funds, UNICEF, and International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, Saifura Khorsa, Hauwa Mohammed Liman and Alice Loksha, were abducted by Boko Haram sect in Rann, Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State.

“It also notes that these health workers, apart from being mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and constituents, were voluntary health workers providing healthcare and humanitarian assistance to devastated victims of Boko Haram sect in Rann.

“It is aware that the moment the news of the abduction of three health workers got to the federal government, it immediately opened up a negotiation channel with the sect for the safe release of the abductees and also received briefs from UNICEF and ICRC

“It is unfortunate to note that despite the negotiation by the federal government for the safe release of these innocent Nigerians, the Boko Haram sect tow this path of tragic execution of two of the captives.

“Cognizant that the remaining abductee, Alice Loksha, and Leah Sharibu who was kidnapped on February 19, 2018 alongside dozens of her schoolmates in Dapchi, Yobe State are still under captivity as the sect threatened to use them as slaves.”

In their contributions, members strongly condemned the unhealthy development, even as others noted that President Buhari has failed in providing security for the country.

In his remarks, Nnanna Igbokwe (Imo, APC) said the government was supposed to secure the lives of the voluntary health workers.

He said: “We will expect that people like these are supposed to be secured by the state. We don’t know the causes of these.  If we don’t nip them in the bud, it will continue to happen.  This is not the first time it is happening, meaning our efforts are not enough.

“The House has to resolve and condemn this act.   Then, we urge the federal government to intensify actions in protecting those outside,   otherwise,   more persons will be abducted. We have approved money for security agencies.   We have approved money for the federal government. We can approve more. They should live up to their responsibilities.”

On his part, Kingsley Chinda (Rivers, PDP) recalled that the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, once stated that a President who could not tackle insecurity should resign.

Relying on el-Rufai’s comment, Chinda agreed that President Buhari has failed to secure Nigerians and should, therefore, resign.

“This is one area that we have agreed that the present system has failed. Issues of security on the floor of this House have been discussed more than any other issue.

“There is no month that we have not discussed issues of security.  How long are we going to keep on passing resolutions that are not implemented?

‘’We must begin to exercise the power that we have. The primary responsibility of any government is to protect the lives and property of the people.

Buhari calls Liman’s father, ICRC boss on phone

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with Mohammed Liman, father of Hauwa, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) midwife who was slain by Boko Haram terrorists.

Presidential media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu in a statement, yesterday, said Buhari in a telephone call, commiserated with the family and said that his government did everything possible to save Hauwa and expressed sadness that all the efforts turned out unsuccessful.

The president further regretted that Hauwa’s commitment to helping victims of the Boko Haram insurgency ended in such a brutal way.

The statement also noted that President Buhari also spoke with Peter Maurer, the President of the ICRC, and extended condolences on the loss of the midwife.

The President commended the ICRC for the great work it had been doing in Nigeria by providing healthcare services to victims of insurgency in some of the most affected areas.

Buhari appealed to the ICRC to continue its services in Nigeria, and not give up, despite the unfortunate and painful loss of their staff.

He said Nigeria needed the ICRC and that the government would do all it can to protect staff of the organisation and other aid workers engaged in humanitarian services in the North East region.

Amnesty Int’l

Reacting to the killing yesterday, Amnesty International stated that the aid workers must be protected from attack as provided under international humanitarian law.

“Amnesty International is deeply concerned about yet another horrific execution of a health worker by Boko Haram one month after threatening to do so. @ICRC_Africa @UN,” Amnesty wrote on Twitter.

The group, while commiserating with the family of the deceased, called on the federal government to ensure the release of Leah Sharibu who had been held hostage by the terrorist group after an attack launched in Dapchi, Yobe State.

“On a day like this, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased. We reiterate our call that Boko Haram must immediately release remaining health workers, Leah Sharibu and all other civilians held hostage.’’

Atiku

In his reaction, the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, called on the federal government to take necessary action to rescue others in Boko Haram captivity.

Describing the killing as crime against humanity, Atiku said in a statement issued yesterday: “While nothing can bring her back, the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation wishes to assure the families of the innocents, whose lives have been brutally cut short, that we will continue to work with our partners in Nigeria and the international community to ensure that those who are still in the captivity of the terrorists and their allies are rescued alive.”

He called on well-meaning Nigerians to continue to support the gallant men and women of the armed forces, as they take the battle to the terrorists and their sponsors in their hideouts.

ICRC

Also reacting, yesterday, the International Committee for the Red Cross, ICRC, which also confirmed the execution of Liman by Boko Haram, said the death of the two aid workers will be felt by thousands of people in Rann and other conflict-affected areas of North East Nigeria where accessing health care remained a challenge.

ICRC’s Regional Director for Africa, Patricia Danzi, described in a statement yesterday that the killing was utterly devastating and heart-breaking.

“It’s utterly devastating that we have to write that sentence. The International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, received information indicating that Hauwa Mohammed Liman has been killed by her captors in a despicable act of cruelty. Hauwa is the second abducted health worker in Nigeria to be murdered in the last month,’’ she said.

Dankwambo, Shehu Sani

In a similar vein, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State expressed sadness over the execution of Ms Liman.

“I am so devastated to hear about the brutal murder of Hauwa Liman, a humanitarian aid worker with @ICRC by Boko Haram. My sincere condolences to the family of the young, promising woman so devoted and dedicated to helping others,” Mr Dankwambo wrote on Twitter.

The senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, described Ms Liman as a martyr of peace, saying “her cruel murder stands unreservedly condemned. She was a martyr of peace.

‘’She paid the ultimate price in the service of humanity. She epitomized courage, resilience & sacrifice.  She was a light that shined over the dark corners of our country.  May Allah grant her peace.”

CAN

In its reaction, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in a terse statement by the President, Samson Ayokunle, described the killing of the aid worker as unfortunate.

He said: “CAN prays God to give the families of the bereaved, the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), their friends, colleagues, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.

“May God console and comfort you all. Our heart goes with you and ask God to heal your wounds and restore sanity to our country.

‘’May those responsible for the wanton killings in the country repent and reconcile with the entire populace in Jesus’ name.”

ICC condemns killings

Also, the International Christian Concern (ICC), a non-partisan, charitable organization focused on human rights, religious freedom and assisting the persecuted Christian Churches around the world, yesterday condemned the killing of Miss Hauwa Liman.

A statement by Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager, said the group learned that Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group from northern Nigeria, had released a video depicting the execution of the aid worker who was abducted in March this year by the terrorists.

He said: “This is the second captive who Boko Haram has killed recently, as they killed Saifura Khorsa on September 15. They said  they killed Hauwa and Saifura for being apostates.

“However, in the recently released video, Boko Haram claimed that they will “keep [Leah and Alice] as slaves.” They said they are not allowed to kill “kafir,” or people who are not apostates, like they did with Hauwa and Saifura, but will instead keep them as their slaves.

“We are deeply saddened by the news that Leah and Alice will not only be kept, but that they will be made into slaves to serve those who persecute them. This continued persecution by Boko Haram must be stopped, and the government must figure out a plan to help rescue these young women.”

BBOG

Also in her reaction, the c-convener of Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, described Liman’s killing as heart-breaking

Ezekwesili in a statement signed by her media aide, Miss Chioma Agbuegwo, in Lagos, said it was painful that Liman was eventually killed by members of the sect.

She said it was sad that the nation failed her, stressing that her murder by the sect could have been averted had the federal government moved fast with the negotiation.

The BBOG convener added that Liman’s death, as well as the case of Sharibu, should deeply worry the nation and provoke it to be proactive in securing the lives of its citizens.”

 

 

 


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