The recent killing of Hauwa Leman, a Nigerian aid worker by Boko Haram, is one murder too many, writes Olaseni Durojaiye
The brutal killing of an aide worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Hauwa Leman, last Monday, threw the nation into intense gloom. But more, it exposed the administration of President Buhari to flaks from different of fronts.
Reports of her death were linked to a video clip and a statement from her killers. In the video, a hapless Hauwa was forced to her knees, her hands tied to her back with what looked like a crested hijab and then shot at close range.
Certainly no one deserves to die in such bestial manner, not the least an aid worker, who left the comfort of her home and the warmth and conviviality of family and friends for the good of humanity.
Lima’s fate reminds many of that of Saifura Ahmed. The two, alongside their colleague, Alice Loksha were humanitarian workers abducted in Rann, Kala Balge Local Government, Borno State in March 2018. Four soldiers, four policemen and three aid workers were reportedly killed in the attack. Ahmed was killed last September.
Reports had it that Saifura and Hauwa were killed, because they were considered Murtads (apostates) by the group. What this means is that they were once Muslims but abandoned their Sislam the moment they chose to work with the Red Cross, and there is no difference between Red Cross and UNICEF.
“If we see them, we will kill the apostates among them – men or women – and choose to kill or keep the infidels as slaves – men or women,” the statement read, according to The Cable.
The killing on Monday of 24 years old Leman, a midwife and student of health education at the University of Maiduguri was carried out following the failure of the federal government to meet some of the demands by Boko Haram as of the deadline, which elapsed Monday.
The three were in captivity alongside I5-year-old schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, who was kidnapped in Dapchi on February 19, 2018 with about 108 other students. The group has continued to hold Sharibu, when other 104 students were freed in March for her refusal to convert to Islam 24 hours prior to the release of other students.
However, ICRC communication delegate, Maiduguri sub-delegation, Taofic Toure had pleaded with the federal government to avert Leman’s killing as the Monday deadline set by the insurgents approached. It is not clear if the administration did anything to avert her death.
Although a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the federal government was shocked and saddened at the killing of another aid worker by the terror group despite the actions taken by government and the widespread appeal to save the young woman.
If the dead do a reunion, the circumstances of their untimely deaths and what role the Nigerian government played or didn’t will certainly feature in Leman and Ahmed’s catch-up conversations.
For a government that listed improved security in the North East region of the country as one of its top achievements, its handling of the kidnap of the three aid workers in March 2018 is the opposite.
The manner the girls were being kidnapped while on humanitarian duties, held in captivity and now Leman’s death punctured the claim by the federal government of a far more improved security in the troubled region. Not even government’s argument that the Boko Haram war was not conventional, to justify the many raids on defenceless communities in the region can absolve the administration of blame in the handling of the issue.
Observers have therefore insisted that the administration is not on top of the security situation in the region given the ease with which the terror group continues to raid defenceless communities, loot their treasures, rain down unimaginable terror and cart away young girls, as though they were spoils of war.
An analysis of the raids revealed the same pattern. More importantly, how the raiders of the terror group access communities deep into the country’s borders without coming against Nigerian forces not only faults government’s claims that all is now well in the region having heavily degraded the group, it also throws up a few questions.
Has government forces resorted to resting on their oars too soon or battle weary? Perhaps, government forces are taking a cue from the administration which appeared to have congratulated itself prematurely when it stated that Boko Haram has been greatly defeated. Is it a question of drop in the morale of the forces? What went wrong with the same forces that retook initially captured towns like Baga, Kawu, Konduga among others?
What is the military high command not seeing in terms of reappraising its war or containment strategy?
Interestingly, whenever the issue of securing the release of Nigerian captives is mentioned government officials were always quick to respond that government was making efforts in the direction. Unfortunately, the efforts have not yielded result, and the girls keep getting the bullets. The first was Saifura, now Hauwa, leading analysts to wonder what exactly government has been doing behind the scene to secure their freedom.
However, aside stepping up on the security of lives and property in the region, government needs to speed up whatever it is doing to free those captured by Boko Haram. The time to reactivate one of the tactics of statecraft that permits negotiated release of hostages, whether in swap deals or not, is now. Other hostages like Leah Sharibu, Alice Loksha, the remaining Chibok Girls and many others not known to the public but government intelligence corps should not go the way of the two aid workers.
Whatever it is, government needs to step up its game. And there is no better time to do so than now with the general election around the corner especially that the ruling party is faced with an apparently rejuvenated Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).