Fears of insecure Borno LGAs to return to communities
By Tada JUTHA, Maiduguri
Apprehension and fears have gripped some of the 7, 911 internally displaced persons (IDPs) relocated from Bakkasi camp, in Maiduguri, to resettled communities in Borno State.
The Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (MRRR) has relocated the IDPs to four council headquarters of Gwoza, Marte, Monguno and Guzamala, before their communities are secured by the military and other security agencies.
Other closed IDP camps by Governor Babagana Zulum, include the NYSC camp, Mohammed Goni College of Legal Islamic Studies (MOGCOLIS) and Farm Centre camps.
The remaining four camps at Monguno Teachers Village, Stadium, Gubio Road and Muna Garage camps are to be closed by December, 2021.
While the returnees remain in the council headquarters, MRRR will construct and provide basic infrastructural facilities and houses for them to relocate again after the military has secured communities.
Some of the IDP returnees however, yesterday (Thursday) dismissed the security of communities provided by the military and other security agencies.
“There are over 20 Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists’ camps in Kukawa, Guzamala and Abadam Local Government Areas (LGAs),” said a top police officer.
According to him, Borno state is witnessing resurgence of terrorists’ activities in the Lake Chad region and Sambisa Forest.
He said when the Governor went for the clearance of Malam Fatori and Abadam council areas, the resettlement committee was attacked six times in a week.
“We also cleared about 10 IEDs planted in the town on shores of the lake,” he said, adding that in Marte and Kukawa Councils, only Wulgo and Baga are protected by the military.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) also said that 10.6 million people need humanitarian assistance.
According to OCHA’s snapshot, about 3.3 million people are facing food insecurity with looming hunger and malnutrition among children and nursing mothers.
These revelations of OCHA corroborates with the fears of IDP returnees in Borno state.
Hauwa Dugje, a mother of five in Gwoza town, lamented that since her return from Maiduguri, her community, Guduf, a border area with Cameroon is yet to be secured.
She said: “After my husband was killed in 2015 by insurgents, life was hard and will continue to affect my children without security for both life and food to eat the next day.”
She noted that while in Bakkasi camp, she had to sell firewood to women in the camp to feed her children.
Continued: “On reaching Gwoza from Maiduguri camp, the living condition has not improved; not to talk of living here without access to her husband’s farmland, because of insecurity there in the hills.”
While pointing to the south fringe of Sambisa Forest, she said that; “You can only travel a radius of two kilometres to fetch firewood and other basic needs of life to survive.”
Adamu Audu, a father of six children in New Marte before they were displaced by Boko Haram insurgent in 2014 lamented that he cannot go to his farmland to produce vegetables.
The inaccessibility, according to him, was to secure their lives and property, while the soldiers protect the peripheries of the community in Lake Chad Basin.
The Commissioner of RRR, Mustapha Gubio in an interview yesterday however dismissed the fears of some IDP returnees not to return to their ancestral homes, stating that; “we’ve returned them to their council headquarters.”
He added that while they remain there, the military will provide clearance first before MRRR commences the construction and provision of basic needs of life, including shelter and public structures.
Some of the IDP returnees in Gwoza and Marte, however told The Guardian yesterday that their communities are yet to be secured for their safe return, three weeks after returning from Bakkasi camp.