Abuja - Nigeria no longer has any excuse for failing to root out Boko Haram Islamists blamed for killing thousands, including many school children, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, parliament speaker, said Tuesday.
"We have run out of excuses. We no longer have any excuse for our inability to protect our innocent defenceless children from gratuitous violence," Tambuwal said at a special session of the lower house of parliament in remembrance of murdered school children and other victims.
On February 25, at least 43 students were shot and hacked to death in their dormitory when suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, in Yobe state.
An undisclosed number of female students was abducted during the overnight attack while the school was burnt down.
Authorities have shut the school and four other Federal government schools in the region -- Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states -- following the incessant attacks.
In an address at the special session of the House of Representatives to mark a Day of Mourning for students and other Nigerians killed by Islamists, Tambuwal said Nigeria no longer had excuses for not protecting its citizens.
"We cannot claim to be one nation, if we cannot find unity in grief; just as we cannot claim to be a great nation when we are incapable of preventing horrendous attacks on our children peacefully asleep in their beds."
"We wake up to the chilling news of the total annihilation of innocent, law-abiding families and entire communities in the most callous, reprehensible and bizarre fashion. This cannot continue. We must rise up collectively and decisively to stop this orgy of deaths, destruction and waste," he added.
Borno state on Tuesday began a three-day fasting and prayer period to end the blood-letting, residents said.
Yobe state authorities said in October that Boko Haram had razed 209 schools, causing damage worth an estimated $15.6 million.
There have been repeated reports of troops fleeing when confronted by Boko Haram but defence spokesman General Chris Olukolade insisted "the Nigerian military cannot by any standard be overwhelmed by the insurgents".
Earlier, the governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima, had fiercely criticised the military's record in fighting Boko Haram, insisting that more resources were needed to defeat the emboldened and increasingly well-armed insurgents.
More than 1,000 people have been killed in the northeast since the emergency measures were imposed last May, despite the enhanced military presence.
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