The United Nations says more than 100 civilians were killed during an attack on farmers in Borno state on Saturday.
Although close to 45 persons were initially reported to have been killed in Jere local government area of Borno on Saturday, following an attack by armed men said to be members of the Boko Haram sect, the UN says “at least 110 civilians” were killed.
Edward Kallon, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, in a statement on Sunday, described the incident as “the most violent attack” targeted at civilians in 2020.
“I am outraged and horrified by the gruesome attack against civilians carried out by non-state armed groups in villages near Borno State capital Maiduguri. At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he said.
“In the early afternoon of 28 November, armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields in Koshobe and other rural communities in Jere Local Government Area. Reports we are receiving are indicating these innocent farmers were the victims of this callous violence.
“I extend my sincere condolences to the families of the civilians who lost their lives in this atrocious attack. I also wish a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the incident.
“We have also received reports that several women may have been kidnapped. I call for their immediate release and return to safety.
“My thoughts are also with the rural communities in the area, who are shocked by the brutality of yesterday’s attack and fear for their safety.
“The entire UN system and the humanitarian community working to provide life-saving and development assistance to the most vulnerable in Borno State is outraged by the incident. Such direct attacks against innocent civilians jeopardize the ability of the most vulnerable people to survive the adversity there are facing, and which we are striving to alleviate.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice.”
While noting that such attacks could worsen the food crisis already being experienced in Borno, Kallon called on the government to ensure adequate protection of residents in the state.
“It is, unfortunately, one of too many such attacks targeting farmers, fishermen, and families who are trying to recover some livelihood opportunity after over a decade of conflict,” the UN coordinator said.
“I strongly condemn this attack and any act of violence against innocent civilians and I firmly urge all actors on the ground to respect international laws and humanity.
“Rural communities in Borno State are facing untold hardships. Helping them to farmland and rebuild livelihoods are amongst our priorities and the only way to avoid the looming food crisis in Borno State. They and all other civilians need to be protected and spared from any kind of violence.
“Innocent women, children, and men desperately need food and other support and assistance, particularly at a time when we are recording some of the highest levels of food insecurity in Borno State. We owe to do our utmost to help them survive these difficult times.”
Nigeria Lacks Space To Store Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine —- NIMR
The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research says there is not enough space at the moment to store the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines which are expected to arrive next week.
The Director-General of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Saturday.
Salako revealed that Nigeria had freezers in different parts of the country to store the Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees centigrade.
He, however, said most of these freezers were occupied and were storing medical supplies which also need to be stored at a low temperature.
Responding to a question, Salako said, “Our facilities can hold Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees but we don’t have enough of such freezers, and the ones we have are even full at the moment. We even just got one that we have yet to install but how many samples can it even hold?
“Even if we rearrange things, I doubt if we can store more than a few hundred or thousands.”
When asked if other facilities besides NIMR could hold such vaccines, he said, “There are many -80 freezers around in the research institutes and universities but the point is that many of them have samples inside them. So, even if we evacuate, I don’t think we will all be able to do more than a few thousands.”
Salako said storage was the minor problem, adding that the major challenge would be how to transport the vaccines at the temperature of -70 to rural areas.
The NIMR boss argued that in the future, Nigeria may need to buy other brands that do not require such low temperatures like Pfizer.
Salako noted that other brands like Oxford/AstraZeneca could be stored at normal freezer temperature while the Russian vaccine could also be stored at a temperature not as low as Pfizer.
He said, “The problem is not just about storing vaccines but moving it to the rural areas and maintaining that same temperature. For example, if you land in Lagos and you store it at -70 and it has to be transported over the creek somewhere, how do you move them? There are other ways but they will be very costly. They can store them with liquid nitrogen or even dry ice but it will cost a lot of money.
“AstraZeneca would have been better because it would stay at normal freeze temperature and I think even Russian vaccines can be stored at the same temperature but I think the government is going with Pfizer because the World Health Organisation has given it an emergency approval.
“But I think all the vaccines are now being deployed in many countries. So, we can do all of them rather than do just one considering the storage capacity for Pfizer. Even the government knows that we don’t have enough space but we can be taken in batches.”
Only God Can Give Victory Over Insecurity —– Femi Adesina
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says Nigerians who fail to commit the security situation into the hands of God could be guilty of indirectly prolonging the war against insurgency.
Adesina said this in an article on Thursday titled, ‘The Decent for the Indecent, the Just for the Unjust’.
The President’s aide noted that a short viral video showed a soldier and four others singing that victory is from God alone.
Adesina, however, said many Nigerians had failed to understand that only God gives victory.
He wrote, “But victory is from God alone. That is what we must realize as Nigerians. Do we ever pray for our troops in the frontlines? Do we remember those youths, our pride, and strength, faced by death daily, as we sleep in the comfort of our homes, ensconced in the tender bosom of our wives?
“As we pray; God give me money. Give me a car. Give me a promotion. Kill my enemies. Do it now. Do we ever remember our soldiers? Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray…did you pray for our soldiers? Victory comes from God alone. If you don’t pray, you may be guilty of prolonging the war in North-East, North-west, North-central, and all over Nigeria.”
The President’s spokesman said rather than understand the fact that only God can give victory, some Nigerians had become wailers.
“Yes, victory is from God alone. But do some people know? Does it ever enter into their consciousness? They only wail: ‘this insurgency war has lasted too long. The banditry has demystified our military. They are cowards. The top guns don’t even want the battle to end.
“They are making money in billions.’ Okay. Making money in billions and wasting our soldiers, our youths, our future, and hope, in their hundreds and thousands because of blood money. That is all some people see; permanent cynics and sceptics, who know nothing of altruism, and whose God is their belly. They think only of pecuniary gain, nothing else,” Adesina said.
He said as the nation marks this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Nigerians should seize the opportunity to pray for the military and encourage them and not run them down.
JUST IN: Lagos Okays School Reopening January 18
The Lagos State Government has affirmed its earlier pronouncement that all public and private schools in Lagos State below tertiary level should resume on Monday, January 18, 2021, for the second term 2020/2021 academic session.
This affirmation was made today by the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo while noting that this is in line with the Federal Government’s resolution after reaching a consensus with relevant stakeholders.