7th February 2019
CACOL CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT’S INTERVENTION CONCERNING PROTESTS IN THE IDP CAMP
Since the outbreak of insurgency in the Northeastern part of the country, especially after the emergence of Abubakir Shekau as the leader of the Islamic radical group, Boko Haram in 2009, tens of thousands of people have been killed while about 2.5mn (Two Million, Five Hundred) people have been displaced from their homes and sheltered at various internally displaced camps, IDC, spread across the Northern parts of the country. The irony of it all is that, while the affected states and federal government, coupled with international humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross, etc., make frantic efforts at providing shelter, foods, security and other necessary materials that are vital to the survival and wellbeing of these displaced individuals, corruption bordering on diversion of food items, funds and other relief materials like beddings, etc., make life very unbearable and make life at times, so brutish short and nasty that one begins to wonder where our common humanity and the traditional African hospitality have taken a flight to.
In a press release, issued by the Coordinator for Media and Publications of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, Adegboyega Otunuga, the Executive Chairman of the Centre, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said, “Just this Tuesday, hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Baga took to the streets of Maiduguri, Borno State’s capital, to protest by barricading the major highway which leads out of Maiduguri, popularly known as Maiduguri-Kano highway, to register their displeasure. Their protest was on allegations of hunger and poor treatment by officials managing their affairs in the camp. Their major frustration was over the alleged poor pattern of feeding and manner of care they have been accorded, since their arrival over a month ago. The protest lasted over three (3) hours and would have turned violent if not for the intervention of senior military officers that appealed to them to retreat to their camp at the Shettima Ali Monguno Teachers Village where they continued the protest.
“It was reported that this latest conflict started a few days back when the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) came to the camp to commence distribution of food ration to the displaced people directly. This development, they said, excited them because it will be the first time in the last 30 days that they would be getting food supply. The IDPs said since their arrival in the first week of January, the government only gave them food ration of only a ‘measure of rice and beans and some condiment and nothing more.’ That when the Red Cross (ICRC) came to announce that they would be sharing food for us, they were very happy, ‘because the hunger has been too much to bear,” said an aged woman, Rakiya Abubakar. However, when the ICRC officials arrived they insisted that they needed to identify their Bulamas (village heads) in the camp and that it is through them the food ration card will be issued before they could get the food supply. These were same leaders, the displaced people believed, have been shortchanging them in the distribution network and other areas; a situation that made them demand they be treated directly, while many of them were reported to have threatened to vacate the camp on an uncertain journey rather than be starved or made to live a sub-human life for a misfortune they believe, they never directly brought upon themselves.”
The Anti-graft organization’s Executive Chairman added, “Although the spokesman of The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Sani Datti, in a statement he personally signed, insisted that the IDPs were not demonstrating for lack of food but the distribution pattern, we call on both the governments and other relevant bodies to effectively investigate both the remote and immediate cause of much of the discomfit and deprivations that usually lead to incessant complaints and protest in IDPs camps across the affected areas with a view to making redress by encouraging open and acceptable administration of these camps, pending when insurgency would be brought to an end and the affected people could be finally reunited to their dear ones.