Tears flowed freely on Sunday as Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, watched over 43 corpses, who were among those killed by suspected Boko Haram insurgents, prepared for burial.
The deceased were farmers killed at a rice plantation in Kwashabe village, about 20 kilometres north of Maiduguri, Borno capital, SaharaReporters has gathered.
The insurgents were also said to have destroyed the rice plantation after slaughtering all the farmers.
Residents told Zulum during his visit that the death toll has yet to be fully ascertained.
“Your Excellency, as you have seen here, 43 corpses were buried, but others have not been retrieved from the scene of the incident. Nobody can tell you the exact number of people killed. Some of the victims are still missing,” a resident (name concealed) , told the governor).
Speaking to the villagers, the governor said, “First of all, accept my deepest sympathy over this carnage, once again, that affects all of us and every human with a conscience. I am told some persons are still missing. We have been discussing with the military since yesterday, Insha Allah the remaining people will be traced soon.
“It is disheartening that more than 40 citizens were slaughtered while they were working in their farmlands. Our people are in challenging situations. They are in two different extreme conditions; while they stay at home, they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, when they go out to their farmlands, they risk getting killed by the insurgents.
“This is very sad. We are still appealing to the Federal Government to ensure recruitment of more our youths in the CJTF and more hunters into the Nigerian military and the Civil Defence so that they can form part of the agro rangers that will protect farmers.
“We need many boots to protect farmlands, and our youths understand the terrain. We will not lose hope because we have to remain optimistic about ending the insurgency.”
Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have increasingly targeted farmers in their violence.
They accused them of spying and passing information to the military and the local militia fighting them.