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Senator appeals for aid to Baga victims

24 April 2013, 07:11

Abuja - Senator Maina Lawan (ANPP-Borno) on Tuesday called on relevant government agencies and individuals to urgently assist victims of the recent violence at Baga in Borno.

Lawan made the appeal in Abuja, following the confrontation at the weekend in Baga between the Nigerian military and insurgents, which reportedly, left over 185 people dead.

Speaking to reporters at the Senate, Lawan said that the Borno Government could no longer cope with the growing humanitarian crisis in the area.

"We are faced with a humanitarian crisis with the number of people homeless in such a densely populated village in a far-flung north eastern corner of the country.

"Even as it is, the medical facilities are outstretched, the utilities are hardly available and where available hardly adequate.

"We need quick intervention of health and medical personnel, we need blankets, mats, in fact, we need quick intervention to resettle these people.

Lawan lamented that many of those displaced were women, children and the aged, whom he described as "totally helpless".

He expressed gratitude to the Senate for mandating its Committee on Defence, Police, National Security and Intelligence to investigate the killings of innocent civilians during the face-off.

He also thanked President Goodluck Jonathan and the international community for demanding a probe into the incident.

The senator advised the Federal Government to strive to win the support of locals in the fight against terror.

"When the locals are killed in a manner as if they are the criminals, how can they even have the opportunity to cooperate because they are running away from the authorities that are supposed to protect them.

"They are also on the run from the miscreants that are after them, so they have become losers at both ends.

"The authorities must protect the innocent and must standout for the innocent," he said.

Lawan, who hails from Baga, confirmed that 185 victims of the incident had already been buried in his community.

"It is true that there are speculations but my constituents have informed me that they have buried nothing less than 185 people, counted.

"The circumstances of the situation is so much that nobody can actually put a final figure because they are still counting."

The senator said that the tragic event, which also led to the burning of over 2,000 houses, was triggered after an attack on soldiers on patrol by suspected insurgents.

He said the attack led to the death of a soldier and the military was forced to reinforce.

"When they came back they levelled the whole place and as we speak half of Baga is in total ruins.

"Shells were used, rocket propelled grenades were used, sub-machine guns were used as well as torture," he said.

He said that members of the multinational task force, comprising troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger were involved in the confrontation with the insurgents.



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