© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Boko Haram: Soldiers, Policemen Fight Over Displaced Persons Food
Some soldiers and policemen were reportedly involved in a fracas at the Borno State Government House in Maiduguri on Thursday over rice meant for Internally Displaced persons, IDPs.
Trouble started Thursday morning when some soldiers allegedly wanted to force their way into the Government house which was packed full with Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, who had gathered to benefit from the distribution of bags of rice by the state government.
The distribution started last Monday and thousands of IDPs daily thronged the venue, leading to a serious traffic gridlock around the area. Many of them would return home without their share of the rice.
According to eye witnesses, the policemen who were in-charge of the distribution took offence at the soldiers for trying to cause more chaos in an already rowdy situation. This infuriated the soldiers who allegedly started shooting into the air to disperse the crowd in their determination to have their way.
The policemen, refusing to be cowed, allegedly returned the gesture by also shooting into the air and throwing canisters of tear-inducing gas.
The helpless IDPs scampered in different directions, with many of them sustaining various degrees of injuries, even as one policeman was shot in the leg.
It took the intervention of Major-General Lucky Irabor, the commander of counter-insurgency operation in the North east known as Operation Lafiya Dole, for the situation to be brought under control.
It was gathered that Irabor and Aminchi Baraya, Borno State commissioner of Police, later visited the injured policeman at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital where he was taken to for treatment.
The Police and the Army in a joint statement later said that the situation has been brought under control.
The statement explained why the distribution exercise was moved to the government house in the first place, saying it was because some thugs had overpowered the committee saddled with the responsibility of getting them to the IDPs and carted away with the food in some communities.
It read: “The distribution was meant to take place at 28 wards of the two local government areas unfortunately, when the exercise was launched in old Maiduguri ward for Jere local government area and at Shehuri north ward for Maiduguri on Sunday, hoodlums overpowered the committee in both instances and made away with many bags of the rice meant for the displaced persons.
“As a result, officials tasked with the distribution shifted the exercise to two premises around the office of the Deputy Governor outside the Government House in order to ensure security of the food items while beneficiaries were identified and issued with allocation notes to give them access to the distribution centers. The exercise had gone smoothly since Sunday with some wards covered, until the unfortunate development today.”
“The Army and the Police are jointly investigating the cause of the fracas with a view to ensuring that anyone found culpable amongst the security men are made to face disciplinary measures in line with laid down rules of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Findings and measures taken will be brought to public knowledge as soon as possible,” the statement concluded.