By Constaincia Uruakpa
Pope Francis has expressed his sadness over the recent slaughter of rice farmers in Nigeria by the Boko Haram sect, as he prayed for the repose of the souls of the deceased. The Pope who made these remarks on Wednesday, December 2 noted that the attack was unfortunate and prayed for the repentance of Boko Haram members, even as he condemned the killing of at least 43 farmers in Zabarmari area of Borno State on Saturday, November 28. .The Holy Father in his weekly general audience, assured Nigerians of his prayers. “I want to assure my prayers for Nigeria, where blood has unfortunately been spilled once more in a terrorist attack,” the Pope said. Pope Francis prayed that those who were killed be welcomed in peace. He also prayed that their families find comfort, and that God converts the killers. He said: “May God welcome them in his peace and comfort their families, and convert the hearts of those who commit similar atrocities, which gravely offend His name.” In claiming responsibility for the attack, Tuesday, Boko Haram said it killed at least 78 farmers for working with the Nigerian military in arresting one of its fighters.
The Islamic sect has killed over 30,000 people and displaced millions in the restive region since its insurgency escalated in 2009. According to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report, overall, deaths from terrorism in Nigeria are now 83% lower than at their peak in 2014, but Boko Haram killings increased in 2019 over the previous year. The sect was ranked as the second deadliest terrorist group globally in 2019, ahead of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and Al-Shabaab, and only behind the Taliban. According to reports, Nigeria remains the third most-affected by terrorism across the world, a position it first assumed in 2015 after dropping from second.