Last week Nigerians, donor agencies in the country as well as the international community were thrown into mourning following the gruesome killing of an aid worker, Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, in Borno State.
Twenty-five-year-old Saifura was killed about six months after she was abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in Rann town, where she was working with the International Committee of the Red Cross [CRC]. On March 1, news broke that Saifura, two health workers, Hauwa Liman and Alice Loksha alongside some other civilians were abducted when Boko Haram fighters attacked Rann. The insurgents also threatened to harm other aid workers and the Dapchi school girl Leah Sharibu, still in their custody.
The United Nations, Amnesty International, ICRC, Borno State government and the Federal Government all condemned the killing. United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, described Saifura's murder as "cowardly, heinous and despicable act." He said she was a young, dedicated and passionate midwife and humanitarian. "Our deepest condolences go to her family, including her two young children, and friends. The United Nations calls on authorities to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. The United Nations also calls for the immediate release of the two aid workers who are still being held."
Kallon said the incident demonstrates the severe challenges that Nigeria continues to face, "but will not deter the international community from providing aid to millions of Nigerians caught up in the conflict in the north-east". ICRC also described her murder as "tragic killing". Head of the ICRC delegation in Abuja Eloi Fillion said, "We are devastated by the murder of our colleague, Saifura." President Muhammadu Buhari, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, described the killing as reprehensible and inhuman and said no religion permits the killing of innocents.
He appealed to Nigeria's international partners and everyone with influence on the terrorists to prevail on them "to stop these acts of extreme barbarism."
We join the rest of the world in condemning this dastardly act and pray God to give the family of the late Saifura the fortitude to bear the loss. It is bad enough that the Boko Haram group has for many years engaged in destruction of property and killing of innocent Nigerians, but to go further and abduct and kill people who are striving daily to bring succour to those suffering from their actions is to say the least, despicable. Having deprived so many people their means of livelihood, they are by this action depriving the victims of a chance at recovering from the damage and this must be condemned by all.
We commend the aid workers who have left all that is dear to them, especially their families to attend to the victims of this crisis and urge them not to be deterred by these attacks. We also commend the UN chief for his promise of continued support even in the midst of attacks. Efforts must be made to secure the lives of foreigners, members of non-profit groups and other civilians who are working to assist the victims.
The terrorist group has also threatened to kill the other aid workers and the Dapchi school girl that are with them. The government should explore all channels available to it to ensure that they are released. We commend the military personnel for their efforts so far in tackling the Boko Haram insurgents. Although substantial progress has been made and we are on course to win this war, there have been some setbacks in recent times. We urge the military to restrategise and redouble their efforts towards bringing this murderous insurgency to an end and we urge the government to provide the military with all it needs in order to accomplish this task once and for all.