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to va­cate, un­less he or she wants to do that of his or her own ac­cord. This is why we are say­ing okay, thank you, we want to go now of our own ac­cord.”

He added that, “The si­t­u­a­tion is be­com­ing un­bear­able for us, espe­cially when we con­sider the fact that be­cause we were a thriv­ing com­mer­cial com­mu­nity, ma­jor­ity of us were so much more com­fort­able, com­pared to our cur­rent un­for­tu­nate si­t­u­a­tion where we have been turned to beg­gars and our chil­dren, urchins. This is why we weighed the cur­rent level of in­se­cu­rity and our de­plorable si­t­u­a­tion and still re­solved to go back home to re­build our com­fort­able lives. We have never been in­do­lent, and we will not al­low our­selves to be con­demned to in­do­lence,” he con­cluded.

Another 50-year-old look­ing IDP, bragged about pos­sess­ing a cap­i­tal of over ten mil­lion Naira, but was now se­verely pained by his in­abil­ity to un­der­take any com­mer­cial ven­ture worth even ten thou­sand Naira.

“A Bama in­di­gene is a com­mer­cial­ly­ori­ented per­son. He doesn’t know any­thing called in­do­lence. Ma­jor­ity of us have been rem­i­nisc­ing over our com­mer­cial pros­per­ity. We are nos­tal­gic about it. If other com­mer­cial com­mu­ni­ties like Da­masak can re­turn in the midst of what­ever in­se­cu­rity, we also want to re­turn to see what we can do to re­store our com­mer­cial glory. The rice and other items of ne­ces­sity I hith­erto never re­garded as any com­fort have now be­come gold to me,” he lamented.

He queried: “Da­masak re­turned even be­fore the re­con­struc­tion of the town was com­pleted. Why are we still tied down here un­der the pre­text of the re­con­struc­tion of Bama not com­pleted?”

There are grow­ing al­le­ga­tions that the state gov­ern­ment is trad­ing Bama, be­cause of its high eco­nomic sta­tus as a thriv­ing trans-bor­der com­mer­cial fo­cal point, for huge funds from dif­fer­ent sources un­der the pre­text of re­con­struct­ing it ‘so well’ for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and re­set­tle­ment.

The state gov­ern­ment, never ruf­fled by any such al­le­ga­tions, is con­tin­u­ing to do what it can to ex­pe­dite the re­con­struc­tion of Bama, but it says it will not fal­ter on its de­ter­mi­na­tion to do it “so well.”

Per­haps pricked by the trek-back-home protest, a re­li­able gov­ern­ment source said a com­bined meet­ing of the state ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil and se­cu­rity agen­cies on Wed­nes­day (Septem­ber 27) re­solved to ex­pe­dite ac­tion for the re­turn of the Bama IDPs back home as soon as pos­si­ble.

Con­se­quently, the state Com­mis­sioner for Re­con­struc­tion, Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and Re­set­tle­ment, Pro­fes­sor Baba­gana Umara, was di­rected to visit Bama on Thurs­day (Septem­ber 28) to as­sess the re­con­struc­tion there to ex­pe­dite the ac­tion.

The out­go­ing Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man of the State’s Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, Engr. Ahmed Satomi, would not com­ment on the is­sue, say­ing that he was no more in the ca­pac­ity to do so. A new SEMA helms­man has not been ap­pointed.

But Daily Trust con­tacted Isa Gusau, Gov­er­nor Kashim Shet­tima’s spokesman. “Who­ever wants Gov­er­nor Kashim Shet­tima to al­low Bama IDPs to re­turned without proper plan­ning, that per­son should show ex­am­ple by im­me­di­ately mov­ing him­self, and his fam­ily to Bama for one month. Some politi­cians are us­ing a group within the Bama IDPs for 2019 pol­i­tics. There are IDPs from over 10 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas that are yet to re­turn to their lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas, why should protest about re­turn only come from a group of peo­ple from Bama? Why not any other lo­cal gov­ern­ment area? Yes, it is un­der­stand­able for dis­placed per­sons to get frus­trated with liv­ing out­side their en­vi­ron­ment for three years, but if you mon­i­tor all the is­sues since last Sun­day when the so-called protest was staged, you will no­tice that key sup­port­ers of for­mer gov­er­nor Ali Modu Sher­iff are the front pro­mot­ers of the protest in the so­cial me­dia and grant­ing in­ter­views.”

Gusau also said: “If you see any­one that is not in Sher­iff ’s camp on this mat­ter, you will no­tice that the per­son has open am­bi­tion to con­test some­thing in 2019. Where were they when the peo­ple of Bama were dis­placed and what ef­forts have they made so far in re­build­ing of Bama? That protest was purely po­lit­i­cal. The whole aim was to mis­chie­vously paint the gov­ern­ment in bad light. I say this with all sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Gusau also said that at some point, the gov­er­nor was be­ing ac­cused of over­pam­per­ing Bama be­cause of the mas­sive re­con­struc­tion he ap­proved there and his con­stant vis­its in­clud­ing his once-re­lo­ca­tion there to su­per­vise take off of re­con­struc­tion, re­in­force­ment of civil author­ity and en­vi­ron­men­tal San­i­ta­tion of that town. “But then, it is his re­spon­si­bil­ity to do what he is do­ing and his ac­tion is based on the postin­sur­gency re­cov­ery and peace build­ing as­sess­ment jointly car­ried out by the world Bank, the of­fice of the Vice Pres­i­dent, the EU and af­fected States and that re­port showed Bama as the worst de­stroyed by Boko Haram in the en­tire north­east. The Gov­er­nor took a bold decito start what or­di­nar­ily re­quired hun­dreds of bil­lions of naira to start. He didn’t want the IDPs from Bama and the en­tire State to re­main in camps. He wanted all camps closed since May 29, 2016. He pub­licly an­nounced his plan to close camps and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­tors saw his an­nounce­ment has hasty. He had to with­draw the clo­sure be­cause of the re­al­i­ties on the ground. Ev­ery day, the Nige­rian Army re­leases state­ment about troops neu­tral­iz­ing Boko Haram in some axis within Borno State in­clud­ing around Bama. What this means is that the mil­i­tary is still op­er­at­ing around Bama and other axis in the State. Should the Gov­er­nor al­low cit­i­zens to walk to Bama un­der that cir­cum­stance?”

Gusau also told Daily Trust that the state gov­ern­ment is cur­rently re­build­ing 15 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas. “Kaga, Dikwa, Mafa have so far been com­pleted. Some mis­chievous peo­ple even said the gov­er­nor was op­posed to Bama IDPs re­turn in or­der to have an easy vot­ing in IDP camps in 2019 but they for­got to ac­knowl­edge that it was the same gov­er­nor who re­built com­mu­ni­ties and mo­bi­lized the re­turn of IDPs to Kon­duga, Kaga, Dikwa, Askira Uba, Gwoza and a host of other ar­eas. He has re­built the palace of the Shehu of Bama and over 20,000 homes in Bama but the work is mas­sive, there is so much more to be done. The gov­er­nor has been hold­ing meet­ings with the Vice Pres­i­dent on how to re­model Bama and de­ploy a spe­cially trained anti ter­ror­ism group that will in­clude those to se­cure farm­ers in their farm­lands. There is a lot to be done. Like the gov­er­nor has al­ways said, his great­est wish is for his suc­ces­sor not to in­herit Boko Haram and IDP camps,” the spokesman said.

DSP Vic­tor Isuku con­firmed the ar­rest of the twelve and their charge to court on phone.

“The fact that they are IDPs doesn’t mean that they are above the law. They are, first and fore­most, Nige­ri­ans be­fore they are IDPs. It is un­for­tu­nate that they have found them­selves in that sta­tus, but they are Nige­ri­ans what­ever their sta­tus, and no Nige­rian is above the law,” Isuku stated.

“The po­lice will not take it lightly with any­one break­ing the law of the land, whether IDP or who­ever,” he stressed.

He how­ever said, “they should be pa­tient. I un­der­stand to­day (Wed­nes­day) there was a marathon meet­ing at the Gov­ern­ment House to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­pe­dit­ing ac­tion on the re­turn of these IDPs to their an­ces­tral homes.”

Bama Ini­tia­tive for Hu­man De­vel­op­ment, in a pe­ti­tion to Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, dated 27th Septem­ber, 2017 and ad­dressed to the Coun­try Di­rec­tor, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional Nige­ria, Maitama, Abuja, signed by Mo­hammed Shuwa and Abba Bukar Abba Masta on be­half of the ar­rested lead­ers com­plained of the ar­rest of their mem­bers and prayed the global or­ga­ni­za­tion to in­ter­vene in the mat­ter to en­sure jus­tice and fair­ness to them.

The pe­ti­tion also nar­rated the cramped and un­hy­gienic state of the camps which they have bore in the light of the cush­ion­ing it gave them from the in­sur­gents and their un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts to get the ar­rested IDPs re­leased.

Civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions have been re­spond­ing on the is­sue.

The Borno State Chair­man of the Civil So­ci­ety Or­ga­ni­za­tions, Am­bas­sador Ahmed Shehu, had is­sued a 48-hour ul­ti­ma­tum to the Po­lice to re­lease the ar­rested per­sons even be­fore they were charged to court and re­manded in cus­tody, say­ing that two wrongs can­not make a right.

“You can’t ar­rest peo­ple that are al­ready trau­ma­tized and suf­fered hard­ships over the year sim­ply for protest­ing. I just got an in­for­ma­tion that the ar­rested pro­test­ers will be taken to prison; are we that law­less?” he queried.

Am­bas­sador Shehu called on the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers to view the si­t­u­a­tion of the IDPs from the hu­man­i­tar­ian per­spec­tives, say­ing, “let the gov­ern­ment fo­cus on ar­rest­ing those who vi­o­lated hu­man rights, not those will­ing to go back home.

He was, how­ever, also an­gry with the trek-back-home IDPs.

“Ac­tu­ally, I con­demn their de­ci­sion to re­turn home without se­cu­rity, I even asked them where they will get wa­ter and other ba­sic needs,” he said.

Sev­eral re­sponses hinge on the al­le­ga­tion that the poorly catered for IDPs are used by politi­cians as hu­man shields or ATM ma­chines for their en­rich­ment as well as an easy way to guar­an­tee their block votes in 2019.

Some peo­ple al­lege that keep­ing the IDPs for this long with no con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion, vis­its, progress re­ports on their si­t­u­a­tion or re­sponse to their ap­peals cre­ates the im­pres­sion that they are kept in Maiduguri for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.

Al­though the Bama IDPs may not have suc­ceeded in what the au­tho­rizes view as their risky and fool­hardy ad­ven­ture, they have suc­ceeded in mak­ing his­tory as the first set of IDPs to spite ‘the good­ies’ of camp life and re­solve to trek back to their ‘still in­se­cure’ home com­mu­nity in such a large num­ber.

The fact that they are IDPs doesn’t mean that they are above the law. They are, first and fore­most, Nige­ri­ans be­fore they are IDPs. It is un­for­tu­nate that they have found them­selves in that sta­tus, but they are Nige­ri­ans what­ever their sta­tus, and no Nige­rian is above the law

Gov­er­nor Kashim Shet­tima of Borno State

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