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‘Buhari’s Reaction To Zabarmari Massacre Empty Condemnation, Not Enough’

Stan Chu Ilo, a research professor of World Christianity and African Studies at DePaul University, Chicago, has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s reaction to the gruesome murder of over 70 farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State, has “usual empty condemnation”.

In an article shared with HumAngle on Tuesday, Ilo, a Catholic priest in Southeast Nigeria and an honorary professor of Theology and Religion at Durham University, wondered how outrage and prayers for the dead can be the government’s strategy against forestalling more attacks.

“What are your plans to bring the perpetrators of this crime to book? What is the plan of the federal government to take care of the many families whose breadwinners and families have been lost in this tragic and inexcusable manner?” he asked.

“As the Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, who quickly deployed the military on the streets of Nigerian cities to suppress the peaceful protests of angry and hungry Nigerian youth, why can’t our president turn this constant expression of outrage or surprise in the face of crimes against humanity being committed in Nigeria on a regular basis by these terrorists, into a plan and strategy for an effective fight against terrorism, particularly in North-Eastern Nigeria?”

He urged Buhari to admit that he has failed in his primary duty of protecting Nigerians and their properties.

“The expression of outrage by President Buhari is not a military strategy for counter-insurgency nor is a presidential prayer for the souls of the dead an effective surveillance and anti-terrorist tracking response that should be measured and directed at these terror cells,” the professor emphasised.

“The present security apparatus and counter-terrorism efforts of the nation have also failed our people in Zabarmari and in the entire North-Eastern Nigeria, just as they have failed in Southern Kaduna, Katsina, Benue, and in the asymmetrical terrorist acts being committed by Fulani ‘herdsmen’ in other parts of Nigeria outside the North.”

He asked the Federal Government to dismantle the present crop of leaders in the security apparatus, considering that they have become ineffective, “corrupt” and “highly compromised”.

“On all scores, President Buhari has failed the nation. His government has been a disaster in many ways as Nigerians drown in deprivation and desperation under the crushing weight of the triple Nigerian national pandemics of Covid-19, poverty and radical Islamic terrorist cells which like cancer have metastasised to every part of the country,” he said.

“The frequency of these callous attacks on innocent Nigerians, their increasing barbarism and their soft targets who are usually the poorest and most vulnerable everyday Nigerians is occurring under President Buhari, who is an Army General.”

He further asked Nigerians to resist the urge to normalise violence and deaths in the country or thinking of them as business as usual.

“We can no longer be silent as a people when lives are being wasted this way in Nigeria. We cannot be silent when our young people have become so debased by our neglect and poisoning of their minds that they hate their fellow citizens this way and will heartlessly slit the throats of fellow brothers and sisters in this orgy of violence and thus desecrate our land,” he explained.

“We can longer be silent or unconcerned maybe because those who were killed were not from our state, region, religion or ethnic group.”

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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