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A driver and 12 farmers, including a pregnant woman, die in improvised explosive device blast

31 January 2024
Reading time: 3 minutes

Explosion in Borno State scares irrigation farmers who say the state needs to send more security personnel with metal detectors so that they can avoid detonating hidden IEDs

A driver and 12 farmers, including a pregnant woman, have been killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Firgi town in the Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State.

The explosion occurred on Monday, January 29, when the driver of a tricycle known as a “Geja” – a motorbike with a trailer attached – rode over an IED which was believed to have been planted by members of the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), better known as Boko Haram, on the Pulka-Firgi Road in the Gwoza district.

Musa Mohammed Waziri, a resident of Gwoza town, the headquarters of the local government area, said the Geja was carrying 12 irrigation farmers who were being transported to their lands.

“The Geja is the only vehicle that can reach remote farmlands. The driver rode over an undetonated IED. He and the 12 farmers, who were crowded on to the trailer, were killed instantly. A pregnant woman and her unborn baby were among those killed.”

Waziri said the government had sent condolence messages to the families but it had not shown any other form of concern and had not sent representatives to take stock of the situation.

“The residents are frightened. This was not the first time an IED has been detonated in Firgi town.

“The governor [Babagana Umara Zulum] claims to be the father of the poor but we have not heard anything from him. I don’t know what has been going on lately. I don’t know if he has even been informed about the blast. He has not done anything to calm the town’s residents. He needs to instruct the government to send more security to the area. If he doesn’t, we will have to stop farming which would make life much harder for us. We are poor and if we stop farming we will not have enough to eat.

“We are begging the governor to instruct the government to take the necessary measures so that the people will not go hungry or starve to death.”

Mustapha Mohammed Shettima, a security expert, said that ideally every township and local government area needed to be monitored by security operatives.

“Security personnel with metal detectors should be deployed to ensure the roads are safe. It is very easy to miss seeing an IED because insurgents hide them from view. Only if the road is swept using a metal detector can the farmers be sure it is safe to travel.

“Take a look at what happened on the Saturday, January 27, when Islamic school pupils – known as Almajaris – picked up an undetonated IED without realising it when they were looking for scrap metal. The IED detonated when the dealer was sorting through one of the children’s bags. The dealer and six Almajiri children died in the blast.

“The authorities, including Islamic school teachers, need to make pupils aware of the dangers of picking up scrap metal. They need to be taught what to look out for and what to avoid. And if they come across an IED they must inform security personnel immediately.

“It isn’t the sole responsibility of the government to keep an eye out or to protect everyone. It’s just not possible. We as individuals need to look out for strange objects and to inform security operatives if anything out of the ordinary is found.”



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