Demand Answers From Gen. Buhari on Executed Aid-worker & Threats to UNICEF
The Secretary General
Demand Answers From Gen. Buhari on Execution of Aid-worker & Terror Threats to UNICEF, Other Hostages in Nigeria
We acknowledge with gratitude your response to our letter dated September 5, 2018 requesting your urgent intervention on behalf of hostages held by Boko Haram and assurances that the matter was being handled at high levels.
We regret to inform you that this week Boko Haram/ISWAP Terrorists announced the execution of one of the hostages – Saifura Ahmed – an aid worker with the Red Cross. Please accept our deepest condolences on the dastardly murder of this 25 year old humanitarian mother of two.
Your excellency, we wish to draw your urgent attention to the specific threat made by the terrorists to kill, within a month, three more hostages:
- Alice Ngaddah (UNICEF Project)
- Hauwa Mohammed Liman (ICRC)
- Leah Sharibu – A 15 year old Schoolgirl (GGSTC Dapchi)
We urge you to meet with Nigerian President Buhari during his visit to US for the UN General Assembly next week to find out what led to the death of Ms Saifura Ahmed and how he can speedily secure the release of these captives.
Specifically, Gen. Buhari should respond to:
- the claim by the terrorists, to wit, that “We contacted the government through writing and also sent audio messages but the government have ignored us. So, here is a message of blood.”
Is it true that the Nigerian government failed to respond to the terrorists?
Was the UN duly notified of Boko Haram’s messages?
- His policy of not watching proof of life messages.
During an interview with CNN in May 2016, President Buhari said, “I haven’t seen that video but even if I see it, I will be very careful about showing it to the families. There is no point to deliberately raise hopes of the families if you can’t meet them. I saw the families as a group twice…the less I see them the better for my own emotional balance.”
Gen. Buhari was speaking about a proof of life video of the abducted Chibok girls provided by Boko Haram in December 2015 which he refused to see for 5 months.
Does the president still adopt this “don’t see” policy?
Could Buhari’s refusal to hear these messages for his “emotional balance” be responsible for the death of the hostage?
Available data indicates that the terrorists released a handwritten note from the hostages appealing to the president for help the first week of May 2018. The execution occurred 4 months later.
3. His frequent absence from office.
Gen. Buhari should explain whether his recurring absence from work for medical treatment abroad is responsible for the tardiness in responding to the pleas of the hostages. Our research indicates that during the first week of May, Gen Buhari had an unscheduled 2-day stopover in the UK on his way back from US. After a couple of days in Nigeria, he again departed for UK to see his medical doctors. Has his ill-health impacted his responsiveness to urgent security matters of this nature?
“The insurgents’ only condition was their demands for cessation of hostilities and temporary ceasefire to enable them return the girls at the point they picked them.
“They required assurances that the government security forces would keep to this.
“The exercise was arduous and quite challenging.”
However in recent times, the DSS has been involved in illegal operations and constitutional violations such as the invasion of legislative houses, the detention of whistle blowers who implicated the President’s Chief of Staff in corruption etc. Could the deployment of the DSS on personal vendetta and political agenda have resulted in the loss of focus and under-prioritization of the hostage negotiations and national security?
An excerpt from the hostages’ note is reproduced below:
We are pleading and begging with heavy hearts to our Humble president Muhammadu Buhari to hear our cry for mercy and look into our situation and vindicate us from this captivity.
“Our dear childrens, husbands, relations and the entire nation need us back home. To our able organisations please hear our cry for mercy. We are really helpless and hopeless, please rescue us and vindicate us, our families need us back and the entire nation at large. “
The hostages recently issued distressful recorded pleas for intervention with no response of note.
We urge the Secretary General to extract from Gen. Buhari an assurance that all the hostages will be released before Nigeria’s Independence Day on October 1, 2018.
We urge the Secretary General to remind President Buhari of Nigeria’s obligations under international humanitarian law to negotiate the protection of aid workers and non-combatant civilians in its dialogue with BH/ISWAP.
HISTORY OF ATTACKS ON AID WORKERS
We note, regretfully, the long history of attacks against humanitarians:
In February 2013, in Borno State, several vaccinators were killed by Boko Haram. In the same month, three North Korean doctors and health workers were murdered in Yobe State.
The abduction and killing of aid workers in Rann IDP camp in March 2018 occurred a year after the same camp was erroneously bombed by the Nigerian Air Force killing many.
The Red Cross lost 6 aid workers in the January 2017 bombing of Rann camp. The execution of Saifura brings Red Cross Staff fatalities to 7 in consecutive attacks in one camp.
Alice Ngaddah is one of the remaining hostages from a UNICEF project in the Rann IDP camp. UNICEF had previously lost a staff member in the 2011 bombing of the UN Building in Abuja by Boko Haram. A UN aid convoy was also attacked with fatalities in 2016 resulting in at least 3 consecutive years of deaths of aid workers in Nigeria.
A medical doctor affiliated with UNICEF was also killed in the March 1 attack on the Rann camp (along with IOM workers) making UNICEF the UN Agency with the highest series of fatalities in Nigeria in the seven year history of UN attacks.
We note however that this is the first execution by Boko Haram/ISWA of an aid worker for failure to respond to a ransom demand.
We conclude by wishing you successful deliberations at the UNGA as people of goodwill work collectively towards world peace and pay tribute to those who in that effort paid the ultimate price such as Saifura Ahmed this week.