Tributes To The Late Defenseless Town of Baga by Usama Dandare

There was once a town in Kukawa Local Government Area in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, close to Lake Chad called Baga.

Baga is a town in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno lying northeast of the town of Kukawa. The town which is approximately 196km from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. The people of Baga town used to be business people mostly farmers and fishermen. Until the town recent death, There was a market called “Doron Baga” fish market which was located about six kilometres from the town used to lie on the border of Lake Chad and was a fishing center itself in the 1960s and 1970s, but the diminishing size of the lake has caused fishermen to move, and others have turned to subsistence farmers. Baga town which sits on the shores of the Lake Chad and famous for its smoked fish market lay waste at the weekend, caught in the vortex of the latest fighting between the JTF and the Boko Haram sect.

On a cool evening on Friday the 19th April 2013 in the desert town of Baga, a corpse of a military officer was found laying death whom was killed by unknown gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram Islamic sect. The corpse was later taken away by soldiers of the Nigerian Army. Few hours after the incidence, men of the Nigerian army stormed the whole Village shooting sporadically at every living thing they saw and setting fire on all structures they came across.
The Baga massacre claimed the lives of 185+ people as official figures shows and several others injured, and reportedly over 2,000 houses and business worth millions of Naira were destroyed. There were speculations that Joint Task Force were responsible for the attack while they claimed that the acted on self defence.

The town came under siege on Friday evening which left in its wake deaths and destruction of a monumental scale. The town was sacked by angry soldiers in retaliation for the killing of just a single soldier, reportedly by suspected members of the sect. But JTF denied the allegation, saying instead that security forces came under attack when soldiers went into a section of the town to conduct an operation and they responded in self defence. The violence was virtually suppressed until Sunday when Governor Kashim Shettima visited the town.

The world, human right groups, international communities and all agencies concern should note that: There is serious humanitarian crisis going on in Baga, dead bodies are still in the bush and there is apparent shortage of food for survivors. There is no medication for the injured and no effective plan to resettle the displaced. It was like the end of the world for the occupants of Baga town. It was fire everywhere as houses were set ablaze and survivors saw soldiers setting houses ablaze and shooting everyone they saw. Many escaped by the whiskers but many were not all that lucky, especially women and children who ran into the bush with gunshot injuries. Many died because of excessive bleeding. The elderly and little children who could not flee died in their thatched huts that were engulfed by ravaging flames.

Baga which is also famous in food and vegetable production as over 90 percent of the people engaged in all year round farming and fishing, all is now gone. They have joined the comity of the disenfranchised­. There wealth is gone, the people massacred and there merchandise burnt. In fact, they have little hope for a prosperous future again. And indeed, they have paid the price of what is unknown to them with there blood, wealth and personal effects, even animals were not spared by ravaging flames that burnt virtually everything in the town.

I really have a rethink over what the military said. Even if what the military said is true, is that enough reason for the soldiers to throw away the baby with the bath water? I mean, is that enough reason for the JTF to kill the villagers because they wanted to snip out the Boko assailants?

Holocaust is taking place right here in Borno State and the Federal Government is not perturbed. If nothing urgent is done in the next couple of month, there would be nobody in Borno State except soldiers and Boko Haram fighters. Already, the northern part of the state have been completely subdued.
Unless something urgent is done in Baga, there is the likelihood of outbreak of diseases as a result of decomposing bodies of humans and animals in the bushes. There is also a haphazard nature of rescue initiative, absence of camps and sanitation facilities for the displaced.

Baga which had all along escaped violence in Borno State, have now become part of an inglorious history of the ongoing fight between security forces and the Boko Haram insurgents that have claimed the lives of thousands of people in the last four years.

The United States’s acting deputy State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell on Monday 22 April condemned the clash between members of the JTF and militants in Baga urging authorities to respect human rights. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan also through his special adviser on media and publicity, Reuben Abati has ordered a full scale investigation into the civilian casualties in the war between Boko Haram and Nigeria’s soldiers at the weekend in Baga. Hundreds of Thousands of people have died in fighting in Nigeria since the beginning of Boko Haram that began in northern region in 2009 before the killing of their leader Muh’d Yusuf in Maiduguri of Borno State.

Unless the Nigerian government tackles the rising issues of unemployment among its teeming youths, poverty among the populace and corruption within the government, then the country’s security challenges can be brought back to normal. The Nigerian electorates are suffering in all aspect of life as a result of weak leadership and the high level of corruption in the government which is increasingly inflating at every move by the clock. Nigeria’s leaders have failed in every sector of the economy, putting the lives of it’s citizenry at risk. Nigeria as a nation, has demonstrated to the globe that it is a failed state.

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3 thoughts on “Tributes To The Late Defenseless Town of Baga by Usama Dandare

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