Saturday, 5 December 2020

They Separated Us,Ask Us To Pay Homage And The Slaughtering Started..Eye Witness Account Of The Mass Slaughter In Borno


They separated the aged from the rest of us, ordered us to take turns in paying homage to their leader inside an abandoned building. But whoever went in never came out. At a point one of the insurgents guarding us told us those inside were being slaughtered and asked us to flee. I was one of the few lucky ones.’

The massacre last Saturday of more than 70 farmers in Zabarmari community, in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists has left the whole country in shock. The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar described it as one of the most gruesome murders carried out by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria for such a large number of casualties while the the United Nations, in a statement by its Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon said the entire UN system was outraged by the killing. 

The manner of the killing was heinous, despicable. It was a tragedy members of the community wished it never came to pass and as they mourned the killing of their loved ones, some of them who escaped the killers’ knives and guns, though still traumatized, have recounted their harrowing experience. They relived the horror, the murderous countenance of the killers and their narrow escape.

Zabarmari is an agrarian community predominantly occupied by Hausa people who came from Zamfara, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi and Kano states to work in the community as hired labourers on the farms with very few Kanuris and other minority tribes.

This community which is less than 20km from Maiduguri, the state capital has a vast fertile land which guarantees dry season farming due to its proximity to Lake Chad Basin and other riverine areas. It has a population of over 10,000 inhabitants who are mostly farmers in rice, pepper, onion, okro and fishing.

The terrorists posed as labourers —Survivour

Recounting his narrow escape, a traumatised survivor, 24-year-old Abdul, said the murderers posed as labourers who had come to the rice fields in Koshobe, Borno state, to engage in seasonal work.

According to Abdul, who came with hundreds of others from Kebbi, a poor region 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) away; “For several days, the killers lived peacefully among us sharing our buildings and eating our food and pretending to be labourers who came for seasonal work. I ran errands for them, getting them food and washing their plates. Then, on Saturday afternoon, they took out their guns, rounded up the people like cattle and slaughtered about 60 workers one by one in front of an abandoned building. They separated the aged from the rest of us and ordered us to take turns in paying homage to their leader who was in the building. But it was only a ploy because whoever went in never came out. At a point, one of the insurgents guarding us told us that those who went inside were being slaughtered and asked us to flee. I was one of the few lucky ones. As I fled, I witnessed the unbearable as the assailants then went on a killing spree, seizing workers on the rice fields, tying them up and slitting their throats. About 40 jihadists were involved in the massacre”.

They breached agreement not to attack our community —Resident

It appeared that the terrorists also targeted workers who were from the nearby village of Zabarmari, even though the village had a protection deal with Boko Haram. Bello Muhammad’s younger brother, Ali, aged 20, was among those killed. According to Bello, “one of the survivours told me that the insurgents asked who among them came from Zabarmari and my brother immediately stepped forward and he was asked to enter the house where he was slaughtered. There was an agreement that the jihadists would never attack Zabarmari residents, which was why Ali was quick to step forward, thinking he would be spared.” he narrated.

I escape by divine arrangement —Rice farmer

Mallam Aliyu Isa, a rice farmer in Zabarmari said he was lucky as he couldn’t go to his rice field in Koshobe on that bloody day due to illness. “I was supposed to be on the rice field on Saturday, but I woke up with severe pains, and had to go to the hospital where I tested positive to malaria. I am happy that I escaped the massacre, but I am also worried as to how I will go back to Koshobe and harvest my crops which I laboured for”, Isa lamented.

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