The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) has released a video showing the execution of four aid workers and a private security guard. The group were abducted on 8th June on the Monguno-Maiduguri road in Borno State and later executed after ransom negotiations reportedly failed.
Prior to their execution, the group appeared in a proof of life video released on 29th June. The individuals murdered were: Abdulrahman Babagana, the camp manager for the State Emergency Management Agency in Monguno; Darman Dungus, who was employed by REACH International; Joseph Prince, who worked for the Alje Security Organisation; Ishaku Yakubu from Action Against Hunger (ACF); and Luka Filibus from the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
CSW's Head of Advocacy, Dr Khataza Gondwe, told Premier that "at least three" of those killed were Christians. "There's one that I'm not too clear on" Gondwe added, noting that there was also "definitely one Muslim" amongst the group.
Gondwe added: "They executed them because they've decided that anybody who works for an NGO is working for an infidel organisation, and therefore they have declared them apostates they can kill."
The Nigerian Government has been under increasing pressure to tackle the scourge of militant violence across the country. Recently, the Nigerian Senate passed a resolution calling for the country’s Service Chiefs to step down following a motion by Senator Ali Ndume after 23 soldiers were killed in an ambush in Katsina State in the north-west and 380 soldiers subsequently resigned, citing "loss of interest". The Nigerian Presidency rejected the call.
"In terms of the Nigerian Government, I'm just not sure if this will make a difference that much of a difference in the long run because aid workers have been executed before," Gondwe added. "There is a morale problem now with rank and file soldiers, because there's this growing feeling that their superiors do not really want this war to be prosecuted to the fullest."
Gondwe said that this pattern of killing and inaction can become extremely "disheartening" but that "we have to remember that God is sovereign, and that he cares for what's happening in Nigeria".
"We just have to get with this program and pray for a change in terms of the leadership, the hearts of the leadership, to see the crisis that is about to explode across the country," Gondwe continued, noting that Boko Haram was beginning to make alliances with the notorious Fulani militants in the north.
"This was something that was suspected, but now we're seeing evidence of it," she said. "It's something that should make us all fall to our knees and pray for deliverance for Nigeria and for breakthrough in the security apparatus...that those at the top would see that the entire country is now threatened.
"They're big prayers, but God is able."
In the wake of the executions, CSW’s Chief Operating Officer Scot Bower said: “CSW extends its deepest condolences to the families of Abdulrahman Babagana, Darman Dungus, Joseph Prince, Ishaku Yakubu, and Luka Filibus. These cowardly executions constitute a gross violation of international law, and we condemn them in the strongest terms. Once again a death cult that goes to the most appalling lengths to extort money and garner headlines has deprived the world of dedicated, courageous individuals who worked selflessly to assist vulnerable communities in a dangerous area.
"We urge the Nigerian government to adequately resource the military units serving in the north east of the country, enabling them to address the terrorist threat decisively, and to offer adequate protection for civilians.
“The persistent failure to address these relentless attacks highlights an overall failure by both levels of government to fulfil their primary responsibility of protecting Nigerian citizens. Moreover, if southern Kaduna does enjoy comprehensive security coverage, then this failure is catastrophic, indicating either incompetence or complicity. It is particularly disturbing that traumatised victims are essentially being re-victimised by false narratives.
"Across the country Nigerian civilians are bearing the brunt of insecurity that is rising inexorably and threatening the nation and the region. We reiterate our call for international pressure to be brought to bear on Nigeria’s state and federal authorities in order to ensure protection for all citizens, regardless of creed or ethnicity.”