“THEY are here, they will take us. We came from Allah and we (shall) return to him. Call my parents, they don’t know my situation. Call Fatima to tell my parents, but don’t tell them my situation. We are in the barracks. Surely we come from Allah and we (shall) return to him. They have entered.”
The above is the translation of the final words of Hauwa Liman, a former aid worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on the day she and two of her colleagues were abducted by the Boko Haram in Rann, Borno State.
When the insurgents attacked the community, Hauwa took refuge inside a room from where she sent a voice note via Whatsapp, an instant messaging mobile application, to one of her friends informing her of her predicament. That message was the last time anybody heard from Hauwa.
Four soldiers, four policemen and three other aid workers were killed in that attack, but Hauwa was one of the ‘lucky’ ones that were kidnapped — to die another day.
Saifura Ahmed, a UNICEF employee who was kidnapped alongside Hauwa Liman, was executed by Boko Haram in September, and Hauwa herself was killed on Monday, October 15, 2018, exactly one month apart. According to video clips released by the insurgents, both ladies had their hands tied behind them before being shot at close range.
Hauwa was only 24.
Nigeria failed them
The federal government had successfully negotiated the release of many Boko Haram hostages, including some of the Chibok schoolgirls, the University of Maiduguri lecturers, some policewomen abducted on their way to a colleague’s funeral, and almost all the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls. But somehow, the government appeared helpless in the cases of Saifura Ahmed and Hauwa Liman.
When Saifura was executed, a spokesman of Boko Haram said that they had “contacted the government through writing and also sent audio messages but the government have ignored us”, so the execution was “a message of blood”. Apparently, this message too was ignored.
However, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, denied that the government ignored Boko Haram. “It is very unfortunate that it has come to this,” Mohammed stated.
“The Federal Government did everything any responsible government should do to save the aid worker. We kept the line of negotiations open all through. In all the negotiations, we acted in the best interest of the women and the country as a whole,” he explained.
Two other hostages remain with the Boko Haram. They are, Alice Ngaddah, who was abducted in Rann alongside Hauwa, and Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi schoolgirl that was not released alongside her colleagues because she refused to convert to Islam.
On the social media, tributes and comments continue to pour in over the execution of Hauwa Liman, many expressing displeasure at the government’s inability to save her, despite an initial warning by the Boko Haram.
Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, tweeted that she found it difficult to sleep, wondering how a country watched helplessly as its citizens were being slaughtered on its soil.
Been hard to sleep.
The excruciating pain that Nigeria is deadly helpless to save her children, her boys, girls, men, women from the danger….Terrorists issue threat to kill our daughters. Silence…..Then they kill our daughters….on our soil. On our soil…. #Hauwa #Saifura
— Oby Ezekwesili (@obyezeks) October 16, 2018
Also, one Demola Olarewaju tweeted: “FG was ‘shocked’ by the killing of Hauwa Liman. Someone should explain this pls: shocked that in spite of all they did, BH went ahead and executed her or shocked because they had forgotten that BH had publicly promised to kill her if some demands made known to Govt were unmet?”
Another Twitter user with the name M.S. Elgusawi wrote: “It’s very disheartening how this young lady was mercilessly killed by so-called ‘Technically Defeated’ Boko Haram. Buhari allocated all of his energy on fighting citizens and opposition.”
Overall, the general consensus, as could be deducted from the thousands of tweets and posts, was that of criticism and condemnation for the government.
Below are a few of the tweets:
The execution of Hauwa Liman by Boko Haram is an indictment on our government's inability to ensure the safety and security of it's citizens.
— Donald Duke (@Donald_Duke) October 15, 2018
The murder of Hauwa Liman, a nurse who dedicated her life to assisting our people, is painful to say the least. It is one death too many, especially considering an ultimatum was issued and those charged with the mandate of protecting lives were unable to secure her release.
— Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara (@YakubDogara) October 16, 2018
Rest in peace Hauwa Liman.
If I had the money I would have paid the ransom.
And if I were the Federal Government, you MAY have been with your family by now and no one would have known a negotiation had taking place before you're release. pic.twitter.com/vYmsXKTpK8
— Awwal suleja (@Awwalab73327976) October 16, 2018
They killed Saifura Ahmed, the midwife
They killed Hauwa Liman, the midwife
They have threatened to kill Alice, the nurse
Leah Sharibu has also been threatened
The government is too busy with politics to care about lives
— nafeeu 🇺🇦 (@nafeezi) October 15, 2018