Tuesday last week, November 21 was a dark day in Adamawa State when about 80 people were massacred by Boko Haram terrorists on one hand and merciless Bachama militia on the other. The two incidents, which occurred within hours of each other, marked the climax of man’s inhumanity to man and showed how some groups have reduced sacred human life to nothing.
The highest casualty was recorded in Mubi town in northern Adamawa where 50 people were killed by a suicide bomber inside a mosque. A suspected Boko Haram bomber sneaked into Madina mosque located in Yelwa neighbourhood at 5am. The bomber who reportedly disguised as a worshipper detonated an explosive vest strapped to his body. Residents said they saw many corpses, some completely decapitated and dozens of wounded persons in the aftermath of the blast.
The Mubi attack is the deadliest this year and one of the worst since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015 and changed the narrative of Boko Haram’s unchallenged offensives. It comes at a time when our forces have made significant gains in the war against terrorism. The Mubi tragedy brought the number of recorded Boko Haram related killings this year to nearly 300, according to humanitarian agencies.
Though neither of the Boko Haram factions led by Abubakar Shekau and Abu Mus’ab Albarnawi has claimed responsibility for the attack, President Buhari condemned the heinous act and said his government would do “everything required to secure Adamawa and the North East from Boko Haram.” Adamawa State Governor Mohamed Jibrilla Bindow also described the attack as callous. This prompt response by the president and the Adamawa governor is reassuring but our security operatives and their intelligence wing must step up efforts. Local vigilantes should also intensify surveillance in important places such as mosques, churches and markets to prevent further senseless attacks.
Parts of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states have remained susceptible to attacks especially by suicide bombers since Boko Haram no longer has the capacity to capture and hold territory. The attack on Mubi, a bustling commercial town that borders Cameroon Republic is a serious setback but a temporary one. The town was once captured and occupied by Boko Haram terrorists in 2013 who named it ‘Madina’ but Nigerian troops reclaimed it a year later, paving the way for the return of the residents. Therefore, everything humanly possible must be done to protect the civilian population.
Equally callous and inhuman was the killing of over 30 women and children in Fulani settlements by Bachama militia near Numan, also in Adamawa State. Chanting war songs, the cowardly attackers attacked settlements in Shafaran, Shawal, Gumara, Kikam and Kadamti villages just when the men had gone out in search of livelihood. They mercilessly killed women and children with machetes and knives. The North East chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) Mafindi Danburam said over 60 Fulani people were killed. He said the attackers were youths from the indigenous population who had been threatening the herders.
Clashes in Numan between so-called natives and herders have occurred several times over the years. In 2003 the Adamawa State government deposed Hamma Bachama Fredy Sodity Bango over alleged complicity in disturbances but it seems we still have a long way to go, hence the need to trace the root causes of the barbaric acts and address them squarely. This latest killing is gory, condemnable and unacceptable. It is a crime against humanity and a clear violation of the letters of the Nigerian Constitution which guarantees freedom of life and room for anyone to live in wherever they chose.
The massacre in Numan is reminiscent of the callous and brutal extermination of the same group in Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State earlier this year. The killers must be fished out and visited with exemplary punishment to serve as a deterrent to future would-be killers.