The recent killing of no fewer than 30 fishermen by fighters of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) in Borno State has punctured the government’s claim that Boko Haram and other terrorists have been technically defeated. The incident occurred recently in Mukdolo village, in Ngala Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State. The victims included internally displaced persons and host community members from the neighbouring Dikwa LGA.

The manner of the killing was gory. The terrorists were said to have asked their victims to lie down. They then used the victims’ fishing net to wrap them, tortured them and thereafter opened fire and killed 30 of them. The United Nations (UN) condemned the killing, describing it as deeply shocking. The UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, said several people were also injured and others still missing. He extended the heartfelt condolences of the UN to the bereaved families and wished the injured a speedy recovery. While reminding all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians from harm, Schmale called on the government to investigate the crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, who visited the families of the 30 fishermen to sympathise with them, had also faced series of attacks from terrorists. In 2020, for instance, there was a deadly ambush near Baga town on the shores of Lake Chad against the governor’s convoy. At least, 18 people died in that attack.

The recent killing of the fishermen reminds us of similar massacre of over 67 farm workers in Zabarmari village in Jere LGA of the same Borno in 2020 by Boko Haram insurgents. In February 2020, terrorists also burnt over 30 innocent travellers to death at Auno in the same Borno. In 2019, they killed about 70 people at a funeral in Badu, Nganzai in Borno State. Elsewhere in the North, it is the same story. In 2021, bandits invaded Goronyo market in Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State, killing 43 people. Since the Boko Haram insurgency started in 2009, terrorists have killed thousands of people and rendered millions of others refugees in the North.

The other parts of Nigeria are not immune from this spate of insecurity. The other day, bandits invaded Grow Homes Estate in the Kubwa area of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and abducted about nine residents. The gunmen reportedly escaped through the bush track that links the community to another village. Nigeria has been struggling for top position with countries like Afghanistan on the most terrorised countries league table. In its latest Global Terrorism Index (GTI), the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) ranked Nigeria 8th most terrorised country in the world. ISWAP was ranked the 6th deadliest group. It is easy to blame unemployment for the rise in insecurity in Nigeria. No doubt, it contributed significantly to the problem. Youths who are idle, for instance, are easy targets for recruitment by terrorists and bandits. Nevertheless, unemployment couldn’t have prompted the brutal manner these innocent fishermen were killed. Their assailants did not ask for ransom nor did they take anything from the victims. They are simply wicked and deranged souls blinded only by a strange and evil doctrine. They only derive joy when humanity is in danger and when people are constantly in deep sorrow.

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Not only will their actions discourage visitors and investors from coming near our country, it will impact negatively on our economy. Farmers and fishermen are among those who contribute largely to the availability of food in the country. When their security is not guaranteed, the nation ultimately suffers. Food insecurity, hunger and poverty may be the end result. This could trigger unrest and some other problems in the country.

We condemn the killing of the fishermen and other atrocities being committed by terrorists in Nigeria.  It shows that insecurity is still much with us despite government’s often repeated claims to the contrary. Security agencies should save us from the hands of ISWAP, Boko Haram, bandits and sundry criminals parading most parts of the country. The danger in allowing any crime to go unchallenged is that it will embolden the terrorists to continue in their nefarious activities.

Some people support carrot-and-stick approach. This can only work with petty thieves and people who were lured or forced to join the terrorist gang by forces outside their control. What hardened criminals and terrorists need is annihilation. That is why government should have monopoly of the instruments of violence. Once that monopoly slips from its hands, then anarchy takes over.

We are in a state of war with terrorists and nothing should be spared to rout them from wherever they operate from. We appreciate the fact that the army is stretched thin because of the level of insecurity it has to battle in almost all the states. The solution to this is to recruit more men into the army.  As we had advised on many occasions, government should adequately equip our soldiers, motivate them and unleash them against these terrorists.