Peter Uzoho who captured the anguish of members of the Coalition for Global Peace and Justice during their rally in Lagos in protest of the killing of two aid workers in the North-east, writes on the clamour for the release of other abducted persons still in captivity by the terrorists
The recent consecutive execution of two aid workers belonging to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) by members of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter group of the Boko Haram terrorists, has expectedly sparked off condemnation from all.
In September, one of the three abducted aid workers, Saifura Khorsa was killed in cold blood. Her death was followed by that of her colleague, 25-year-old Hauwa Liman just this month. This was after the expiration of the October 15 deadline given to the Nigerian government by the group to pay ransom for the release of the lone Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, and the two aid workers. Failure to meet the October deadline saw the death of Liman, while Sharibu and Loksha are still in captivity.
Sharibu on the other hand is the lone Dapchi girl who is still in captivity after she was abducted from her school in February this year. Although 110 were abducted, the government succeeded in gaining the release of 104. While five died, one was left behind because she refused to renounce her Christian faith against despite demand by the terrorists, an act they perceived as an affront to their command leading to her continuous detention in their captivity.
The Rann Attack
The trio of Hauwa Mohammed Liman, Alice Loksha and Saifura Ahmed Khorsa, all women, were abducted by the terrorists on March 1, this year. While Liman and Khorsa worked in a hospital supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Loksha, was a nurse who worked in a centre supported by UNICEF.
On the said day, no fewer than four aid workers were killed on that Thursday night attack by insurgents in Rann community in Kala Balge Local Government of Borno. According to Samantha Newport, Head of Communications, UNICEF Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), who confirmed the incident to the on Friday in Maiduguri, two of the deceased were personnel of UN client organisation, International Organisation of Migration (IOM), deployed to Rann as camp managers. She added that others killed were a medical doctor working as a consultant with UNICEF and an aid worker with the ICRC affiliate organisation.
The insurgents had attacked the town at about 7 p.m. using in their trucks and motorcycles. They first infiltrated the town before attacking a military base and an internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp, where over 55,000 persons sought shelter, alongside humanitarian workers. At end of the attack, Liman, Loksha and Khorsa were missing.
Worried by this reign of terror and the wanton shedding of the blood of innocent citizens by these insurgents, members of the Coalition for global Peace and Justice (CPJ), a faith-based, non-denominational civil society organisation, mobilised all their members in Lagos for a rally to protest against the injustice meted out to Nigerians under the purview of the government.
The rally which took place last Sunday at the headquarters of the Realm of Glory International in Okota, Lagos and around the neighbourhood, had the protesters dressed in black and red attires, displaying placards bearing varied inscriptions with photos of the victims.
Some of the inscriptions read: ‘RIP Saifura Khorsa’, ‘RIP Hauwa Liman’, ‘Nigeria mourns’, ‘Blood on the flag’, ‘Blood of the innocent crying for justice’, and ‘Who will save Alice Loksha’, amongst several others.
As the marched around the vicinity, they called on the government to rise and address the ugly situation in the country. According to them, the government has failed the people. They wondered why there would be a government in the country and a set of people will be slaughtering their fellow citizens for nothing without any strong resistance from the government.
The National Coordinator of the coalition and General Overseer of the Realm of Glory International, Pastor Abraham Sam Aiyedogbon, who spoke to THISDAY on the sidelines of the rally, said they have given the federal government an ultimatum to see to the immediate release of Sharibu, Alice Loksha, and all other people being held captive by the insurgents.
Aiyedogbon said: “We feel that what is happening is unprecedented, it has never happened like this before. There is an infringement on the sovereignty of Nigeria as a nation state. It looks like there is even no government because we now have a terrorist organisation, whether they are Boko Haram or Islamic State of West Africa Province, who are responsible for the execution of Hauwa Liman.
“We have them running either within our territory or in and out of our territory, taking citizens hostage, slaughtering our citizens, and our government seems to be powerless and helpless about it. So we feel ashamed, we feel insecure, we are pained because it is just unprecedented and it is unbearable.
“The president is not telling us anything specific; we voted him into power for security of lives and property; we voted him into power to bring change, we voted him into power to fulfill his promises; he didn’t do that, rather he is looking for second term, to do what? He has to prove to us why he failed the first term before he can tell us to vote for him for second term.
“People are hungry, we are feeding people in church, people are losing their jobs, there are widows everywhere, there are orphans all over the place; none of the politicians are addressing these issues – the issue of Leah Sharibu, the issue of Hauwa Liman, the issue of all these deaths. They are not addressing any of them, they are just changing political parties and it’s about their interest. So we are saying “Our Mumu E Don Do.”
According to him, “if Hauwa Liman was the daughter of a governor or a president, or a connected billionaire would her story have been different?”