Abubakar Shekau, the 47-year-old leader of the Boko Haram terrorist group, has confirmed that the group killed 78 rice farmers in Nigeria.
The confirmation comes as governors rebuked the military, calling for engagement of mercenaries to tackle the terrorists.
Shekau said on Tuesday that the killing of the rice farmers last Saturday in Zabarmari in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State in northeast Nigeria was a revenge.
In a video released on Tuesday night, he claimed responsibility for the killing, explaining that although Nigeria buried 43 victims, 78 people were killed.
According to him, his men went after the farmers because they handed over a member of the group to the Nigerian army. He threatened that his group would go after those giving information about their activities to the military.
As the outrage generated by the terrorists continues, 19 governors from the north have resolved that the federal government should dump the army and engage mercenaries in the fight against the insurgency.
Prof Babagana Zulum, the embattled Governor of Borno State which is the epicentre of the insurgency, had earlier called for use of mercenaries. He said the state no longer has confidence in the Nigerian army, noting that he had escaped three assassination attempts since he became governor in 2019.
Taraba Governor Ishaku Darius, who spoke on behalf of the others on Tuesday, described the terrorist attack as traumatising and called on the federal government to urgently engage mercenaries.
The governors who visited Zulum to condole with families of the dead farmers said: “Our dear brother, we are here to condole with you over the killing of farmers by Boko Haram insurgents. We are indeed saddened and traumatised.”
The governor said that Nigeria cannot be in perpetual mourning. More than 35,000 people have been killed by the insurgents since 2009.
“All of us in the Northeast Governors Forum are pleading to the federal government to find a solution to the issue of Boko Haram because, if we neglect it, it will become even worse,” he said.
The legislature has also turned the heat on President Muhammadu Buhari over what they described as a “sluggish and sleepy” response to the terrorist attacks.
There was anger and uproar in the House of Representatives on Tuesday as lawmakers debated a motion to invite President Buhari to explain what his administration was doing to stop the killings.
The Speaker of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, tried to protect the President, explaining that it would not be ideal to invite Mr Buhari because security matters cannot be discussed in public.
The House resolved that there is an urgent need for the President to reorganise the country’s security architecture and that the government declare’s a state of emergency.
The Senate also castigated President Buhari’s government for failing to protect Nigerians and called for urgent measures to restructure the security system.
“If the President insists that the security chiefs are doing their work well, the logical implication is that the President himself, as the Commander-in-Chief of the country, has failed in his assignment of securing the nation,” the Senate said.