Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have attacked Katarko village a distance of 18 kilometers away from Damaturu the Yobe State capital.
Eyewitnesses told Channels Television that the attackers drove into the community around 10:00 a.m. on Thursday in one Armoured Personnel Car (APC) and six Toyota Hilux mounted with anti-aircraft guns.
The residents who fled to the bush for safety said, the insurgents might have come to loot foodstuff as today, Thursday, is the market day of Katarko village.
Other unconfirmed sources from the village revealed that the military had ambushed the insurgents while returning back to their base.
Katarko community was last attacked on March 16, 2021, in which blocks of health facilities were burnt down by the insurgents.
Channels Television gathered from sources stuck in Dikwa that the insurgents are currently moving freely in the town, and have mounted a checkpoint at the exit preventing people from fleeing to Maiduguri.
The Chief of Army staff had recently visited the headquarters of the Army Super Camp 9 located in Dikwa is where he gave troops a 48-hour ultimatum to clear insurgents from neighboring Marte local government.
At least 35,000 people had fled Marte to Dikwa when the insurgents attacked.
But officials say they are not able to return the displaced people even after the military liberated the town (Marte) because of reports of land mines planted on the roads by the insurgents.
It is not clear at this moment if there are any casualties.
The Benue State Government on Tuesday reacted to the influx of armed herders and increase in deadly attacks in the state lamenting that the police are overstretched.
The state deputy governor, Benson Abounu, in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said some Local Governments in the state has as low as five police officers.
“The police are trying their best but the unfortunate situation is that the police is overstretched. Everybody knows this. The number of personnel is not enough.
“In a whole local you will be surprised that there are just about five officers, some 10. This is where the problem is. They are overstretched. So, you are calling on one police officer to tackle one issue here but some other issues are taking place elsewhere that requires his attention,” the deputy governor said.
Abounu, however, praised the Federal Government’s effort in recruiting more officers.
“I am happy that the presidency is rising up to this. Two years or so back, about 10,000 officers were recruited and I understand that there’s another process of recruitment going on now. That is the way to go about it,” Abounu said.
Benue State Government had earlier raised an alarm after observing an influx of ‘heavily-armed’ herdsmen at its border with Nasarawa State.
Abonu said an investigation into the herdsmen’s activities was prompted by an alarm raised by Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule who briefed President Muhamamdu Buhari about the activities of Boko Haram insurgents along his state’s borders with Benue.
The deputy governor said although the investigation is still ongoing, the state government have been able to ascertain the fact that there appears to be a massive deployment of herdsmen with their cattle on the brink of River Benue but on the Nasarawa State bank.
The state government also observed that the herdsmen were heavily armed; many of them with Ak-47 rifles.
According to him, many of the Boko Haram insurgents are regrouping in Nasarawa State and they belong to the Darussalam group that had been dislodged from Niger State.
He said further that upon a joint security operation, a lot of them were killed while 900 were arrested. Governor Sule maintained that those arrested confirmed their membership of the Boko Haram insurgency group and have been handed over to the authorities.
“I have come to see the leader of our party and the leader of the nation and our father, Mr President, to brief him about the activities happening in the state, especially in the area of security.
“We have continued to have challenges with a team of Boko Haram who were settled at the border with the FCT. We thank the security forces that were able to dislodge them. Now, they have gone back and gathered at our border with Benue and they are causing a lot of havoc,” the governor said.
The Nasarawa State Government had earlier in November announced plans to restructure its security apparatus due to killings and insecurity.
The Governor made the announcement during an emergency security meeting in Lafia, the state capital following the murder of the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nasarawa, Phillips Shekwo.
A Fulani traditional ruler and an unidentified young man were also killed during the same period.
The security meeting was attended by the heads of various security outfits in the state, as well as the Chairman of the Nasarawa State Traditional Council, Justice Sidi Bage, among other stakeholders.
In a 67-page report, Amnesty International reported how older residents are highest victims of conflict, displacement, and detention in Northeast Nigeria.
They also discovered that Humanitarian response to treat older people are ‘an afterthought.’
See full statement of Amensty International below…
Older people have suffered in unique ways from the conflict that has raged for almost a decade in Northeast Nigeria, with many starved or slaughtered in their homes or left to languish and die in squalid, unlawful military detention, Amnesty International said in a new report today.
The 67-page report, “My heart is in pain”: Older people’s experience of conflict, displacement, and detention in Northeast Nigeria, shows how both Boko Haram and the Nigerian military have committed atrocities against older women and men, with nobody held to account. It also focuses on how displaced older people are consistently overlooked by the humanitarian response.
“When Boko Haram has invaded towns and villages, older men and women have often been among the last to flee, leaving them particularly exposed to the armed group’s brutality and repression – amounting to war crimes and likely crimes against humanity. This has included torture, being forced to witness killings and abductions of their children, as well as looting resulting in extreme food insecurity,” said Joanne Mariner, Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International.
“Nigeria’s military, in turn, has repeatedly shot older people to death in their own homes during raids on villages in Boko Haram-controlled areas. Thousands of older people have been denied dignity in hellish conditions in military detention, with many hundreds of them dying in squalor. These, too, amount to war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity.”
Living under Boko Haram’s repression
Many villages in areas under Boko Haram control are disproportionately populated by older people who are unable to flee or who choose to stay and continue working their land.
In these villages, older people face threats from all sides. Boko Haram loots their property and often restricts older women’s movement, making it harder for families to earn money and feed themselves. Boko Haram also abducts or kills their children and grandchildren, and sometimes tortures or kills the older people themselves.
“Boko Haram… asked why I was still around when others had run away… I told them it was my house and I was not scared of dying. Some of them said instead of killing me, they’d put me in permanent pain. They brought out their knife and stabbed me in my foot, leaving a big gash,” said an 80-year-old woman from a village in Michika local government area (LGA), Adamawa State.
On 28 November 2020, Boko Haram killed at least 43 farmworkers near Koshebe village, in Borno State, mostly with machetes or knives; dozens more civilians from the area remain missing. Amnesty International interviewed a 65-year-old man who was among those captured; he was on a one-week contract for farm labour, as he said the food assistance his family receives in displacement is irregular and insufficient to feed them. Boko Haram spared and released the man, but murdered two of his sons. “Those boys, they’re the ones who help me stay alive,” the man said. Boko Haram had murdered another of his sons five years earlier, during an attack that forced his family to flee their village in Mafa LGA.
Boko Haram’s looting of harvests and livestock, combined with the military’s severe restrictions on aid access, has resulted in extreme food insecurity for older people, with Amnesty International receiving reports of many dying of starvation. In September 2020, the UN Secretary-General indicated that Northeast Nigeria was at risk of famine, with “alarming levels of food insecurity and hunger”.
Attacks on civilians and unlawful detention
In its operations against Boko Haram, Nigeria’s military frequently fails to distinguish combatants from civilians and at times even deliberately targets civilians – a war crime.
Amnesty International found that many older people with limited mobility are unable to flee and have been shot and killed or seriously injured when soldiers spray bullets through houses. Others have burned to death inside their homes when the military torched villages perceived to support Boko Haram.
A man in his late 50s from a village in Bama, Borno State, described a Nigerian military attack on his village: “They came in the night… My father was an older man – more than 75. I said we should run to the bush. He said he couldn’t, he was too old…We came back, around 2 a.m. He had bullets all in his body. We took the body to the farm area, and we buried it there.”
Older people are not spared the military’s widespread unlawful detention of people fleeing Boko Haram areas – even without any evidence that the person was linked to the armed group, much less involved in violence. Amnesty International interviewed 17 older men and nine older women who were unlawfully detained – for periods ranging from four months to more than five years – in unfathomably inhumane conditions in Maiduguri’s infamous Giwa Barracks and other sites.
Severe overcrowding, scarce food and water, extreme heat, infestation by parasites and insects, and lack of access to adequate sanitation and health care are among the litany of violations at Giwa. While there have been improvements in recent years, the conditions remain inhumane and, from 2013 to 2017, were so extreme that they amounted to torture for everyone detained there. Older detainees described how the grossly inadequate sanitation meant they frequently urinated or defecated on themselves – an assault on their basic dignity.
Amnesty International estimates that, in the context of the Boko Haram crisis, at least 10,000 people have died in custody since 2011, many of them in Giwa Barracks. The organization reviewed more than 120 images of corpses brought from the barracks to a local mortuary, and spoke to individuals with insider knowledge who estimated that 15-25% of those who have perished are older men. This is disproportionately high, as older men appear to account for no more than 4% of the population in Northeast Nigeria. In April 2017 alone, 166 corpses were transferred from Giwa to the mortuary.
Displacement and humanitarian response
The report also examines the humanitarian response to the conflict, and calls for older people to be fully included in the design and implementation of humanitarian programmes to assist the war’s displaced. Humanitarian agencies estimate that older people account for around 150,000 of the 2.1 million people displaced by the conflict in Northeast Nigeria.
In displacement camps, the failure to ensure that humanitarian aid is adequate and reaches some of the most at-risk people, including older people, has led to the violation of their human rights.
Amnesty International spoke to older people from 17 camps across Borno State and none of them had received targeted assistance as an older person. They felt invisible or as if they were treated as a “burden”. Some reported having to beg just to have enough food and medicine to survive. Others said they were forced to go without essential medication.
Many older women in particular face further challenges as they care for grandchildren whose parents were killed, abducted, or detained by Boko Haram or the Nigerian military. Gender discrimination and patriarchal norms in Northeast Nigeria pose additional barriers to older women’s participation in processes that impact their lives. “Nobody is hearing us, nobody is seeing us,” one older woman told the organization.
Sustained data collection and analysis is the first step towards ensuring inclusion of older people. Nigerian authorities and humanitarian organizations should follow existing standards and practices by systematically engaging older people – including older women, older people with disabilities, and older people living alone – in assessments and programme design.
“All too often, older people have been ignored in aid provision in Northeast Nigeria. Inclusion means respecting the rights of people with different needs and risks, including those associated with ageing. It is time to stop treating older people as an afterthought,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
International law does not provide a global definition of what constitutes an “older person”. It is often defined as age 60 or older, including in a regional human rights treaty signed by Nigeria, but the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has promoted a context-specific approach, which Amnesty International agrees responds better to individual rights. In the context of Northeast Nigeria, Amnesty International has included people in their 50s, also taking into account their self-identification as an “older person”.
For this report, Amnesty International carried out field and remote research between November 2019 and October 2020, and interviewed 62 older women and 71 older men affected by the conflict. It also interviewed representatives of international and local humanitarian organizations operating in Northeast Nigeria, as well as witnesses to atrocities against older people, hospital staff, and prison staff in a facility where people are detained amid the conflict.
The research for this report builds on close to a decade of Amnesty International’s work on the conflict, including previous reporting on crimes by Boko Haram and by the Nigerian military. Hundreds of Amnesty International interviews from prior research contribute to this report’s analysis, including more than 140 interviews with people formerly detained in Giwa Barracks.
It follows a separate report, ‘We dried our tears’: Addressing the toll on children of Northeast Nigeria’s conflict, published in May 2020.
The Northern Elders’ Forum, (NEF) have lamented over the recent murder of farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents claiming that life has lost value under President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration
The Forum in a statement through its spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, lamented that the lives of Nigerians no longer have value under the present administration due to the constant attacks and killings of innocent citizens, hence they want President Buhari to toe the path of honour and resign for failing to ensure the security of the Nation.
“Northern Elders Forum (NEF) joins Nigerians in expressing outrage at the killings of farmers in Borno State and many other people on a daily basis in many parts of the North. Our voices have been raised without pause for a long time against pervasive insecurity in our region.
“Under this administration, life has lost its value, and more and more citizens are coming under the influence of criminals. We do not see any evidence of a willingness on the part of President Buhari to honour his oath to provide security over Nigerians,” the statement read in part.
The Northern leaders also asked President Buhari to resign if he cannot secure the nation and ensure the protection of lives and property of citizens whom he swore to protect.
Highlighting a thread of threats in the Northern part of the country to include Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, rustling, and kidnapping, the Northern leaders said these need immediate intervention and solution.
“In civilized nations, leaders who fail so spectacularly to provide security will do the honourable thing and resign. Our voices have been raised without pause for a long time against pervasive insecurity in our region.
“We have consistently drawn attention to lack of political will to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as banditry, rustling, and kidnapping.
“We had offered suggestions on how the security infrastructure could be improved and leadership of the military could be made more effective,” they said.
The leaders lamented that their advice and that of many other Nigerians, “have made no impression on President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The Northern Elders also faulted the response of the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu over the Boko Haram killing of 43 rice farmers in Borno State, describing his statement as ‘most insensitive’.
“These particular killings have been greeted by the most insensitive response by spokespersons of the President. The lame excuse that farmers had not sought permission from the military to harvest produce merely exposed the misleading claims that our military had secured vast territories from the insurgency.”
The leaders said, “The killings and the reality they expose will make relocation of citizens and resumption of economic activities a lot more difficult to achieve even for leadership that attaches priority to them, and this administration does not.”
According to the Northern Elders, farming communities have been hampered by bandits and kidnappers and the “prospects for famine are real in the face of limited production of food in many of our communities.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has condemned the killing of about 50 rice farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents.
Gbajabiamila said the incident has once again brought to the fore the need for more military action against the terrorists.
He said it was unfortunate that at a time the country was focusing on self-sufficiency in rice farming, about 50 of the farmers were killed in a most gruesome manner.
This was disclosed in a statement signed on Sunday by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi.
The Speaker said the House is determined and ready to provide all necessary support, including the ongoing budgeting process to ensure that funds are allocated for the security agencies to carry out their mandate of wiping out the terrorists.
“It’s unfortunate that about 50 of our countrymen lost their lives to the barbaric and inhuman action of the insurgents at this time.
“This incident is one too many for us as a country. Here were innocent citizens going about their lives of looking for their daily bread to cater for their families. But are murdered in a most gruesome manner.
“Their lives should not go in vain. This should call for more action from our military. As a House, we are ever ready to give them all the necessary support, especially through budgetary allocation, to deal decisively with the insurgents.
“My heart goes out to the families of the murdered farmers,” the Speaker said.
At least forty farmers were killed on Saturday morning around Marrabati and Hammayya villages, near Zabarmari in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists.
The farmers were waylaid on their way to their rice farms which they were harvesting before the surprise attack happened.
Some other farmers were also taken away by the criminals.
The Nigerian Army says troops of the Operation Lafiya Dole have killed 14 Boko Haram insurgents and rescued 21 persons who were abducted by them (Boko Haram) in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Texas Chukwu, said this in a statement on Friday.
According to him, the hostages were rescued on Thursday when the military raided a hideout of the insurgents.
“Troops of 192 Battalion of 26 Task Force Brigade of Operation Lafiya Dole alongside Civilian Joint Task Force neutralised 14 Boko Haram terrorists in a village suspected to harbour terrorists that ambushed a civilian vehicle in Pulka on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.
“The troops attained the feat on Thursday 6th September 2018 during an early hours clearance operation to Amdaga Madachi village in Gwoza Local Government Area in Borno State suspected to harbour the terrorists,” the statement read in part.
Chukwu further stated that the 21 civilians rescued included six women, 11 children and four men, some of whom have been taken to a military hospital for treatment.
“The Acting General Officer Commanding 7 Division Brigadier General Abdulmalik Bulama Biu, through the Commander of 26 Task Force Brigade Brigadier General Dahiru, has commended the troops for their gallantry, urging them to maintain the momentum by taking out all Boko Haram Terrorists within the Division Area of Responsibility,” he added.
The rescue of the hostages comes a day after the Senator representing Southern Borno at the National Assembly, Ali Ndume, demanded action and lamented over continued attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in the state.
Ndume told journalists on Thursday that the spate of attacks carried out by the terrorists in the last two months is worrisome
The Bring Back Our Girls campaign group has expressed gladness over the fact that the Federal Government was able to secure the release of 82 Chibok school girls out of the over 200 girls abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Government and all the other partners, the group also believes that the rehabilitation of the girls as well as reuniting them with their parents is another key step that should be taken immediately.
“We are extremely delighted at this news, at the fact that 82 of our Chibok girls are back, and so right now the total is 106. We still have 113 out there waiting to be brought back home but right now, we are delighted, its a happy day and we are looking forward to the fact that 82 families would be able to have undiluted joy when they finally are reunited with their daughters.”
The co-convener of the BBOG, Mrs Aisha Yesufu, said this in an exclusive interview with Channels Television in Abuja.
Meanwhile, speaking on the overall well-being of the 21 girls who had been rescued earlier, Yesufu stated that although the government had denied them access to the girls, they have continued to push for their proper rehabilitation and most importantly, their return to school.
This according to her, would deny the insurgents the glory.
“Unfortunately, when they were brought back, the Federal Government didn’t give us access and we said that was okay, all we wanted was access between the girls and their parents. Let them be able to meet, let them be re-integrated and rehabilitated into the society and ensure that they go on to get that education.”
The Yobe state Government says it has recruited 17 new Egyptian Doctors in various fields of specialty as part of measures to improve healthcare services among its citizens in the post insurgency era.
This brings to 97, the number of medical doctors in different areas of specialty currently serving in the state.
Addressing newsmen in Damaturu the state capital, the Executive Secretary of the State Hospital Management Board Dr. Garba Fika, also revealed that four of the major hospitals in the state are currently being remodeled to meet the healthcare challenges in the state.
The development became vital as several healthcare facilities in the state particularly those in Gujba, Gulani and Kanamma were destroyed during the reign of terror by militant group, the Boko Haram.
Currently, General Hospitals in Damaturu, the state capital and those in Gashua, Geidam and Potiskum are also nearing completion as they are being rehabilitated.
The executive secretary further stated that the issue of referral cases from the state would soon be a thing of the past as the state would rather be receiving referral cases from other states.
“When the remodeling of these hospitals are complete coupled with the takeoff of the University Teaching Hospital in Damaturu the state capital, I can assure you that we will not be transferring health complication cases to anywhere. Rather, we will receive referral cases from other states”.
Also speaking on the deployment of foreign medical doctors, Dr Fika said “12 of the doctors have reported while the remaining five are still being expected.
“We have screened them thoroughly to ensure they are real medical doctors and experts who can help in the various areas we are lacking”.
Dr. Fika said since creation in 1991, Yobe state has never had it better in the area of healthcare development like under the present administration.
“I have been in the state since creation in 1991 and I can assure you that the state has never had it better than now in terms of healthcare development.
“The present governor has done extremely well in repositioning the health sector geared towards improving the well-being of the people generally”.
He applauded the present administration’s decision to establish a medical college at the state university which according to him, would train all the required medical staff in the state.
Meanwhile, he revealed that over 300 medical students are currently being trained within and outside the state.
Furthermore, he said 80 medical doctors are presently on the state payroll all with the aim of strengthening the healthcare needs of the people.
Fika therefore urged workers to rededicate themselves to duty by ensuring the healthcare dreams of the state government are met.
He also gave the assurance that rehabilitation work would soon commence in other areas of the state.
“With the improved peace, I can assure you that the hospitals in Gujba, Gulani and Kanamma will soon be attended to so that healthcare needs of the people in those areas and environs will be timely addressed”.