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ISWAP’s execution of aid workers

killing of five aid workers in Borno

The Islamic States of West African Province (ISWAP), also known as Boko Haram, murdered in cold blood five humanitarian aid workers they abducted separately in the North East in June, 2020.

Captured on video, the mindless murder of those innocent Nigerians was done after the sect’s request for a $500,000 ransom from government and humanitarian agencies was not met.

We join the government, international agencies and Nigerians in condemning the wicked and senseless bloodshed.

The murdered humanitarian aid workers were Ishaku Yakubu of Action Against Hunger; Abdulrahman Dungus of Rich International; Luka Filibus, a child protection officer with the Aid Group International Rescue Committee (IRC); Joseph Prince, a security worker; and Abdulrahman Bulama, a SEMA camp coordinator.

They spent 52 days in Boko Haram enclave before they were finally executed last Wednesday.

Boko Haram took the brutal step of publicly executing the aid workers out of frustration because it failed to compel government to pay the huge ransom for their release.

Boko Haram has continued to thrive because of the millions of naira they extort from individuals, institutions and governments in return for the release of kidnapped Nigerians.

In addition to illegal taxing of Nigerians who are unfortunate to live in areas occupied by the bloody sect, and the raiding of markets and other commercial centres, Boko Haram has been able to raise resources for the procurement of arms and ammunition, pay mercenaries from neighbouring countries and maintain the loyalty of their commanders through illegal income from ransom.

In many countries, it is unethical to pay ransom for the release of captives, and it seems the Federal Government has begun to observe this protocol.

However, it is not enough to resist pressure from terrorists and families to pay ransom for the release of innocent Nigerians from Boko Haram captivity.

Government must step up its security surveillance through modern technology. It has become apparent that there is deficit in network coverage of the country, hence it is possible for terrorists to occupy a large swarth of the country, produce videos, bring them to where there is network coverage, and share on social media without being detected.

This is unacceptable. It is time for the country to acquire the technology that can detect criminal activities in any part of the country.

Furthermore, it is high time the federal and state governments took over unmonitored forest reserves and national parks and sack these evil men from there.

It is clear that there is a shortfall in the number of security personnel battling terrorists and bandits. At a period of national emergency like this, government should recruit more soldiers and policemen and equip them with sophisticated weapons in order to overwhelm these terrorists.

During the Nigerian Civil War, the military had to recruit about 250,000 soldiers to prosecute the challenge. It is not clear why government is not adopting the same principle in order to wipe out terrorists from our territory.

The execution of these aid workers brings to fore the working conditions of Nigerians who work for humanitarian aid organisations. In most cases, vulnerable aid workers are third party contractors.

They are hired by consultants to international humanitarian organisations.

The implication is that they do not receive the comprehensive benefits of working with aid organisations, like being flown to locations in helicopters, or having life insurance coverage as part of their conditions of service.

One of the protocols observed by humanitarian aid workers is that they should not travel by road in dangerous territories. But those captured by ISWAP or Boko Haram might have travelled by road.

They were either third party contractors or they violated their organisations’ protocols. It is necessary for the National Assembly and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to wade into the conditions of services of Nigerian staff who work for aid agencies and ensure that they are not exposed to unnecessary danger.

Therefore, we call on the Federal Government and security agencies to up their game and ensure that these terrorists do not continue to waste innocent lives.

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