As the internally displaced persons return home gradually, SAMUEL ODAUDU critically takes a look at the
security questions and fears of some of the IDPs who want solid assurance from the federal government
and military authorities whether their communities are indeed safe for them to go home.writes GOLOK
NANMWA, Jos

 

When the internally
displaced persons, IDPs,
from Borno, Adamawa and
Yobe States were assured
of their security and asked
to return home from their
various camps across the
country, it brought flood of
nostalgic remiscence of the
popular saying: there is no
place like home.
Indeed, there is no place
like home. Generally
speaking, no matter how
battered or unattractive, no
where else can be compared
with one’s home. Home in
this sense implies a place
of birth, ancestral home or
where one grew up. All the
old memories of childhood,
communal spirit, native
food, culture, history,
religion and the insatiable
bond of family relations,
friendship, among others are
core essences of existential
man.
Man’s spirit, soul and body
are intrinsically interwoven
with his home. People are
naturally, psychologically,
historically, spiritually,
traditionally and morally
bound to the place they call
their home. That is why
it is difficult to separate a
man or woman from his
or her home. It is therefore
unimaginable what life
has been for the internally
displaced persons of Borno,
Adamawa and Yobe States
origin who were chased
away from their homes and
camped as total strangers in
other cities.
Their loved ones have been
slaughtered, kidnapped,
wounded and dehumanised.
Their means of lifelihod had
been destroyed by insurgents;
their farms, houses, businesses,
places of worship, essential
parts of their existence
have been obliterated by a
sweeping evil wind of terror
that overshadowed the North-
Eastern part of Nigeria.
For close to two years, the
IDPs were living in makeship
houses in different states of
Adamawa, Borno, Gombe,
Yobe, FCT- Abuja, and other
places. They depended and
lived on philanthropies
and goodwill of several
well meaning Nigerians,
national and international
organizations to eat, drink,
clothe, take care of their
health, among several other
numerous daily needs. And
now, at th instance of military
authorities’ promise, they are
gradually returning home to
start life afresh.
But are their homes, villages
and communities safe as
proclaimed by the federal
government? Have the federal
government, as well as th stats
governments of the affected
areas rebuilt the homes of
the IDPs? Have they been
empowered to start eking out
a living for themselves?
Recently, the spate of suicide
bombings in the affected areas
has dramatically increased.
There are fears that some areas
which the military said it has
liberated might not have been
safeguarded properly to keep
insurgents away from night
raids, killing and destruction
of property of IDPs after all.
The Borno State government,
for instance, promised to build
600 housing units for the IDPs
as part of rebuilding the areas.
The state governor, Kashim
Shettima, has said that with
the rebuilding of destroyed
communities in Kaga Council
Area by the Ministry of
Reconstruction, Rehabilitation
and Resettlement (MRRR)
with 600 houses, the
displaced persons would
return in January last month.
It is part of “rebuilding and
rehabilitations” of 25 Boko
Haram destroyed
communities.
Police stations and barracks
are also part of the rebuilding
project. The projects’ cost
was put at N580million. The
Borno State government is
also to build 1,000 housing
units at Bama town at the total
unit cost of N1.5million. “In
Tamsu-Kauw and Makinta
Kururi, we are building
400 units of mass housing
that we have not accounted
for; but the 560 units of
houses at Benisheikh for the
Police station and barrack,
boarding primary school,
council secretariat complex,
Kamandara Central Primary
School and the district head’s
palace at Auno.
“All the reconstructed
buildings for Jakana Police
station, the mass housing
units at Auno, the General
Hospital in Benisheikh are at
various stages of completion.
We have also sunk four
boreholes each in the two
villages and at Auno. This is
in addition to the building of
56 housing units at Tamsu-
Kauwa; but we have a long
way to go. While there is a
will, there is always a way.”
He said the state
government, was determined
to change the face of Borno
state. “If you have observed,
we are embarking on this
reconstructions efforts in
phases. The whole of Borno,
nearly 20 Local Government
Areas were devastated by
these lunatics. We are largely
concentrating now in liberated
communities where there is
sense of stability like Kaga,
Konduga, and Bama councils”,
he said.
But there are still doubts
among the IDPs regarding
their personal security as
some of them have started
returning home. For
instance, bomb explosion
killed and wounded
several persons in Chibok,
the community where
insurgents had invaded and
abducted young girls from
their school dormitory, last
weekend. The market where
the bomb exploded was
iniatially locked up but was
recently reopened as a result
of reduction in terrorist
activities in the area. Now,
members of the community
are wondering how long
they will continue to live in
fear.
Similar fears have been
expressed by other IDPs
camps following recent
suicide attacks in Adamawa
and Yobe States that killed
many people and wounded
others.
According to reports,
several IDPs from
Mobbar and Abadam
Local Governments in the
Northern Borno rcently
expressed their fear of
returning home because they
said that contrary to claims
of the military authorities,
their areas are still under
the control of Boko Haram
terrorists. Worst still, they
said they had no confidence
in the Civilian Joint Task
Force, CJTF.
“Sometimes they (CJTF
members) demand money
from us, which is the
problem. This our brother
only ask, why are they
always disturbing us and
the boys said we would not
enter the camp and some
of us said, we must enter
that is the problem,” Umar
Zannah, an IDP, told a news
agency.
Zannah further stated
that, “You see, Boko Haram
members are still in my
local government. I am
from Abadam and what
I am telling you is the
truth. There us no soldier
in Abadam. No soldier in
Damasak. We are aware of
the time the Army Chief
went there, but we are
talking of now. The last
time they said, some areas
were liberated we know
what happened when some
people returned home. We
want to be sure that such did
not happen to us and from
our own information, Boko
Haram are still in Abadam
and Mobbar.” Zannah said.
The military, some of the
IDPs contend, needs to
come clean on their (IDPs)
security, it’s (military)
strategy to keep insurgents
away from invading their
villages and killing them
in the night. One said
similar promise was given
to the Chibok community
by the same Borno State
government to provide
security before insurgents
abducted the innocent
school girls.


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