BORNO State Governor Babagana Zulum has suspended a French-based aid agency, ACTED, from all humanitarian services in the state.
The Borno State government said the non-governmental organization (NGO) was suspended for conducting shooting training for some people in the state.
The hotel used for the training was also sealed pending the outcome of a police investigation.
Borno State is the epicentre of insurgency in Nigeria – a crisis that has consumed at least 350,000, including women and children, according to the United Nations.
The attacks, which began in 2009, have also led to large-scale destruction of communities and have displaced over 3.2 million people in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
A statement released on Saturday by the spokesperson to the governor Isa Gusau said residents alerted the police to gunshots at the hotel used for the training in Maiduguri.
Police found ACTED using toy guns and simulators in training that involved some Nigerians, the statement said.
“Residents near the hotel had reported to officials that they were hearing sounds of gunshots from the hotel, following which government officials reported the matter to GRA Divisional Police Headquarters which oversees the hotel’s location.
“The police found some toy pistols at the hotel while two trainers, both Nigerians, were at the police station with investigation going on,” part of the statement, obtained on Borno State Governor’s page on Facebook said.
The statement said the governor acknowledged and appreciated the roles of credible organizations which had been providing critical humanitarian interventions in different parts of the state.
He also assured them of the government’s continued cooperation and support while charging them to abide by laws, policies and rules guiding all their activities and actions across the state.
Meanwhile, an ACTED team member, suspected to be among the top brass of the organization, declined to speak with The ICIR when contacted Saturday evening.
He referred our reporter to the UN for comments.
Our reporter had made several attempts to reach out to the organization through its website, the NGO has no phone number on the website.
The reporter later stumbled on a phone number belonging to one Gado Micah on the internet.
ACTED attached Micah’s phone number to its advertorial on its tender (an invitation to bid for a project at the agency) and directed applicants to meet Micah, its “ACTED Representative Office in Maiduguri.”
Micah told The ICIR on the telephone “I work with ACTED quite alright but I’m not an authorized person to speak on such issue. The only information I have is what you also have; what I saw on social media. I don’t have (any other) information.”
The ICIR reporter requested that he provide the contact of the person who could speak on the issue, but he declined and referred the reporter to the UN.
“You can get the contact from any of the UN organization. As I said, I am not an authorized person to either share the contact of any top coordination member of the organization or share any information about the organization.
“You can speak with any of the UN organizations that coordinate NGO activities in Nigeria. They have the contacts of all the security and communication managers of every organization. They will even be able to give you details of what is happening,” he said.
When informed that he would be quoted in this report, Micah urged this reporter to “go ahead.”
In September 2019, the Nigerian military stopped the operations of Action Against Hunger, a foreign NGO, for feeding militants in the North-East.
Reuter reported at the time that a military source and an aid worker at the organization, both speaking on condition of anonymity, said the army shut Mercy Corps after troops said they had found 29 million naira ($94,771) in cash being transported in northeastern Borno state by a driver who said the money belonged to Mercy Corps.
In February this year, the state government sealed off eight offices and guest houses of NGOs working in the state for not having valid documentation with the government.
Executive Secretary Borno Geographic Information Service, BOGIS, Alhaji Adam Bababe told journalists while carrying out Special Enforcement Operation that out of the 183 International and local NGOs operating in the state, only 21 were duly registered.
Nigeria’s North-East has witnessed bombardments by Boko Haram insurgents for over a decade. The Islamic State in West Africa Province recently joined the sect to wreak more havoc in the region.