NO fewer than 80,900 Nigerians in Sokoto State fled home to seek refuge in Niger Republic within the first three months of the year due to the security situation in the state, a report by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has revealed.
The UNHCR also said 71,289 persons in the state have fled their homes to other places in the country within the period.
According to the UNHCR, the massive displacement is due to the violent activities of terror groups, organised crime groups (OCGs), non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and conflict between farmers and herders in the state.
This is despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s claim that his administration has made progress “with regards to stemming the tide of communal violence, farmer-herdsmen clashes, cattle rustling, and kidnapping across the North-Central and North-West of the country”.
The UNHCR report revealed that the different groups have continued to engage in violent acts despite ongoing offensives by the Nigerian military.
Criminal and illegal activities by the groups, such as unlawful vehicle checkpoints along supply routes and major roads in the state, have further aggravated the sufferings of locals.
“According to Grassroot Initiative for Strengthening Community Resilience (GISCOR) Protection Monitors there was a daily average of two illegal vehicle checkpoint (IVCP) incidents on Gandi-Rabah road, Goronyo, and Sabon Birni – Gatawa roads. During the reporting period, GISCOR team has recorded 13 incidents that resulted in 67 fatalities in the state,” the report said.
The report noted that Sokoto State continues to remain volatile with abductions and kidnappings, although no significant attempts or infiltrations by Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) or organised crime groups (OCGs) members were reported in Sokoto Municipality.
It was revealed in the report that in March alone, more than 44 individuals died, about 23 were abducted, ransoms of about N14 million demanded and looting of unquantifiable properties were recorded in Rabah and Goronyo LGAs.
NSAGs attacked Illela Dawagare village in Goronyo LGA, setting the entire village ablaze and shooting the villagers. The attack was thwarted by military operatives.
Around 150 individuals were displaced into Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps which is 2km away from the village, while an unconfirmed number fled into Sabongari Dole village for safety. Other damages have not yet been ascertained.
The report revealed that many people are unable to carry on their day-to-day activities such as fetching firewood which is a means of livelihood.s
The situation has worsened their vulnerability due to heightened insecurity in the state.
Other aspects of life affected by the state of insecurity are freedom of movement, limited access to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) services, strained access to food, child protection issues, inadequate shelter conditions, and poor Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) situations due to limited access to clean water.
Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in the society. You can shoot him a scoop via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.