By Omololu Ogunmade, Alex Enuma and Paul Obi in Abuja, Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday described the attack and killing of humanitarian workers in Rann, the headquarters of Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State on Thursday night by Boko Haram as Godless, brutish, an act that would only hasten the group’s destructive end.
The President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the United Nations and the European Union have also condemned the Rann attack.
A statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the President symphatised with the United Nations (UN) and other humanitarian agencies working at Rann, and in the country generally.
Buhari said the wickedness only showed that the terrorist group should be despised, adding that no true religion could seek to harm the innocent.
According to him, going from attacking the innocent to further attacking those offering humanitarian services was the height of bestiality which he said was offensive to both God and man.
“As I have always maintained, no true religion advocates hurting the innocent. To now further attack and kill those offering humanitarian aid is the height of bestiality. It is odious before both God and man,” the president said.
He insisted that the attack was a cowardly act that would energise his administration to overrun Boko Haram and wipe it out within a short while.
“President Buhari affirms that such cowardly attacks can only bolster the determination of government to bring the Boko Haram insurgency to a decisive end, in the shortest possible time,” the statement added.
The President of the Senate in a tweet on his handle described the Rann attack as cowardly, while also calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, condemned the killing of the three aid workers during the attack by those he described as non-state armed group on the military facilities next to the town.
Kallon disclosed that three aid workers were also injured in the attack while a female nurse was said to be missing or probably abducted.
“Aid workers put their lives on the line every single day to provide emergency assistance to vulnerable women, children and men. Our deepest condolences go to the families of the victims and our brave colleagues and we call on authorities to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice and account,” said Kallon.
The statement disclosed that two deceased aid workers were contractors with the International Organisation for Migration, working as coordinators in the camp for 55,000 Internally Displaced Persons who have fled their homes as a result of the ongoing conflict. The other deceased aid worker was a medical doctor employed as a third party consultant with UNICEF.
The United Nations in the statement also expressed great concern about other civilians who may have been injured or killed in the attack.
On his part, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, described the attack as senseless and a grave violation of all humanitarian principles.
“Right now, our thoughts are with families, friends and organisations of all those affected and the most vulnerable people aid workers strive to help in Nigeria. Humanitarian workers are not a target. Saving lives should not cost lives.
“At this difficult time, the European Union stands by the Nigerian authorities and people. These attacks will never deter our commitment to support those most in need in Nigeria”, he said.
The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east, that has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, is one of the most severe in the world today, with 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2018 in the worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, and 6.1 million targeted for humanitarian assistance.
Now in its ninth year, the crisis shows no sign of abating. Close to 80,000 people, including 55,000 internally displaced persons, currently reside in Rann and are supported with humanitarian assistance.
The United Nations and non-governmental humanitarian organisations are working across the north-east of Nigeria to provide aid, including food, safe water and medicine, to some 6.1 million people in need in the northeast. Some 3,000 aid workers are present in the north-east, the majority of who are Nigerian nationals.