We commiserate with the family of Hauwa Liman, the 24-year-old nurse and Health Education student of the University of Maiduguri, who was executed last week in the most brutal and inhuman fashion by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), said to be the breakaway faction of the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
We salute the courage of Mohammed Liman, Hauwa’s father, for seeing beyond the family tragedy, praising the sacrifice of his young daughter who was cut down in her prime, and offering encouragement to the relatives of the other captives of Boko Haram.
Hauwa Liman is the second aid worker executed within the last month by the terrorists. Saifura Husseini Ahmed was the first to be killed by the ISWAP on September 16. Both women were among the three aid workers abducted by the Islamic State terrorists on March 1 when they attacked the heavily guarded military facility in the town of Rann, Borno State. Alice Loksha Ngaddah, a nurse and mother of two, is still in captivity, along with Leah Sharibu, the lone 15-year-old Christian of the Dapchi Girls’ Secondary School who was abducted in February alongside 109 others; but the government reached a deal with the terrorists and all the abductees were released except Miss Sharibu who refused to renounce her faith. Alice Ngaddah’s aged mother died in April as a result of the trauma of her daughter’s abduction. There is no end to the trauma and tragedy of terrorist abductions. This is why the Federal Government must take extra precautions to prevent them. The Dapchi case could have been avoided.
But it is impossible to minimise the enormity of the crime of killing an aid worker. The African Director of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Patricia Danzi, described Hauwa Liman’s killing as “a despicable act of cruelty,” and that her death is “utterly devastating and heartbreaking.” We think it is worse; just as we agree with Amnesty International that the deaths of the two women “amounted to war crimes.”
The ICRC also said it made “sustained and committed” efforts to secure the release of the three health workers without success. The verdict returned by the terrorists following the numerous entreaties from all over the globe was the executions. The blood-chilling decision that Leah Sharibu and Alice Loksha have now been turned into sex slaves by the terrorists should cause worldwide revulsion and action to free these young women.
The killing of an aid worker is like killing a “Good Samaritan,” because that, technically, is what an aid worker is. They do the most selfless job in the world. With no concern for their own individual safety or comfort, they move into territories of conflict, trying to ameliorate distress, reduce pain, give comfort to the sick and hope to the hopeless. The killings of those women are therefore not merely reprehensible, they are abominable. Boko Haram and the Islamic State have been a blight on Nigeria.
The Boko Haram and the Islamic State have given ultimatum before the September 16 killing. They also gave another ultimatum before they murdered Hauwa Liman. We do not discount the intricacies of negotiating with groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State. The Federal Government has stated through its spokesmen that it did all it could to secure the release of the young women. We, of course, do not know what the government did. Neither do we doubt that it did something, nor would it be prudent to ask what it did. But whatever it did failed to save the lives of these aid workers.
We urge the ICRC and the Federal Government to send a report of these killings to the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The Federal Government must ramp up its effort to defeat these terrorists. Boko Haram and the Islamic State must be made to account for these unspeakable crimes.