The father of a young midwife executed by Boko Haram has blasted the jihadists for killing his daughter, hailing on Wednesday the “immense help” she gave to her community and expressing hope for the safe release of other hostages.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed on Tuesday that Hauwa Liman had been killed, a month after the murder of one of her colleagues, Saifura Khorsa.
Both were kidnapped with a third aid worker, Alice Loksha, from the UN children’s agency Unicef, during a Boko Haram attack on the remote town of Rann, in northeast Nigeria, on March 1.
Hauwa Liman’s father, Mohammed, told AFP that he was “deeply shocked” at his daughter’s death, which came less than a week after indications from the government that they would be released.
“We are deeply disturbed, the whole family is disturbed,” he said in Hausa, in an interview in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
“Rann is my home town where I grew up and still have relations there.
“It is now home to more that 50 000 IDPs (internally displaced people), including children, women, and the aged who are in dire need of help.
“Hauwa was a trained midwife and we decided that she went there to help people who badly needed her service. Rann was also her home: her uncle and aunt still live there.
“She proved to be of immense help to the community in the 10 days she served in Rann.
“Despite what happened I have no regret that she went to Rann and offered humanitarian service. She really helped the community within these days.”
Amnesty International said the women’s deaths amounted to a war crime.
The killings are thought to be due to the overthrow of a more moderate leadership of the Islamic State-allied Boko Haram faction that seized them.
Hardliners in the self-styled Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) reportedly killed their de facto leader, Mamman Nur, who had previously pledged only to hit “hard” military and government targets rather than civilians.
The killings have raised fears for the safe release of Alice Loksha and a Christian schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, who was seized in February from the town of Dapchi, in Yobe state.
Mohammed Liman said: “I don’t know what Islam the killers of Hauwa and Saifura practise.
“I don’t know where they get this notion that working for the ICRC and Unicef is punishable with death. The Islam we know encourages humanitarian and selfless service to those in need.”
He also accused Boko Haram of “sheer deception”, saying they had “made up their mind to kill Hauwa and Saifura no matter what effort would have been made to save them”.
More than 27 000 people have been killed and some two million others made homeless in northeast Nigeria since the conflict began in 2009.
A sustained counter-offensive by the Nigerian military, with assistance from neighbouring states, has pushed the Islamist rebels out of captured territory, although attacks persist.
But it has also laid bare a humanitarian crisis in the region that has left millions in dire need of emergency food, healthcare and shelter.
Mohammed Liman said his daughter, who was just 24, “will always be remembered for the humanitarian service she rendered to the community in Rann”.
“I pray to Allah for Alice and Leah’s release. They are in my thoughts and prayers,” he added.
“Alice’s uncle and brother came and offered their condolences. Our families are bound by a common tragedy. We have been in close contact since the abduction.”