The Northern Elders’ Council (NEC) has declared that Boko Haram insurgents responsible for the recent killing of over 43 farmers in Zabarmari community in Borno State must not go unpunished.

The council, therefore, called on the international community to support Nigeria in the fight against insurgency.

NEC made this known in a statement by its Assistant Secretary General, Dr. Adama Kabiru, and made available to our reporter on Wednesday.

While expressing solidarity with President Muhammadu Buhari and families of those murdered in the cruel attack, the council urged the international community to support Nigeria by assisting in cutting off the terrorists’ access to funding and arms.

The statement read: “The Northern Elders’ Council (NEC) is urging that the Boko Haram terrorists responsible for killing scores of farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State must not go unpunished for their abhorrent crime against humanity. The specific individuals that carried out the attack should be identified and dealt with while the campaign to exterminate the terrorist group should be escalated. This is even as we sympathize with the families of the bereaved, President Muhammadu Buhari and the entire nation.

“We condemn the killing of these innocent farmers, who were only out to earn their livelihood, in the strongest terms as barbaric, repulsive, inexcusable, depraved and deserving of the harshest consequences possible. The punishment for this crime should be made particularly stiff given the fact that the terrorists possibly targeted the farmers in order to precipitate a food crisis.

“The council regrets that the terrorists and their enablers committed the atrocious murder despite all of Mr. President’s sacrifices and that of the Nigerian military by exploiting the political atmosphere in Borno State to inflict pains on humanity.

“The killing of the farmers should now prompt an alignment among all stakeholders irrespective of pecuniary differences. Those sitting on the fence in the anti-terror war must now take a stand in the interest of humanity while those who usually make justification for the crimes committed by Boko Haram terrorists should now know that it is them against the civilized world that hold the sanctity of human life dear.

“We appeal to those currently trying to squeeze political capital out of this tragedy to have a rethink because it is appalling for anyone to be callous to the point of using the death of innocent persons at the hands of terrorists as means of gaining political traction. Anyone gloating over the mass murder as a way of deriding President Buhari is tacitly encouraging Boko Haram to kill more people, which unfortunately is what a worrying number of persons have been doing.

“NEC is certain that the death of these farmers will trigger actions that guarantee that days of the terrorists are numbered, and this singular wicked and dastardly act is one they will pay the highest price possible for. Nigerians should help ensure this by furnishing the military and security agencies with timely information that will lead to successful military operations against Boko Haram fighters.

We, therefore, urge Mr. President to give the command for the Nigerian military to unleash on Boko Haram and any of its known affiliates while the intelligence community is also mandated to fish out terrorists’ enablers with a view to cutting off the financial, propaganda and intelligence they receive from their supporters. Resources should be prioritized to scale up the operations to rid northeast Nigeria and the entire Lake Chad Basin of terrorism.

“The international community must at this point shake off their indifference, particularly countries whose foreign policy drive had contributed to the rise of extremism and terrorism. They should support Nigeria by assisting in cutting off the terrorists’ access to funding and arms.

“Those countries that have refused to sell arms to Nigeria must at this stage have a rethink especially when it has become crystal clear that their subtle embargoes on arms sales to Nigeria were premised on false reporting by NGOs that covertly work to advance the cause of the terrorists”.