© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
IT IS TOO UNSAFE TO RETURN IDPS HOME – GOV SHETTIMA
Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, has kicked against any plan to relocate Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, from the camps provided by government back to their homes, saying it would be callous and irresponsible to hurriedly return them to their liberated communities, even to vote in the coming election.
The governor stated in a press statement released by his spokesman, Isa Gusau, that some of the villages and suburbs of the liberated towns are still infested with the insurgents and sending the IDPs back to the areas without total cleansing of all vestiges of insurgency would amount to wickedness and sacrificing them on the altar of politics.
The governor commented on the ongoing efforts to enable the IDPs to vote during the forthcoming elections during a visit over the weekend to Diffa province in Niger Republic to see about 200,000 refugees from the state who fled to the neighbouring country, explaining that his government chose not to support the move to hurriedly dispatch the IDPs to the recently liberated communities on the grounds of safety and environmental health hazards.
He insisted that a lot of destroyed houses, hospitals, schools, farms and lots more need to be fixed before citizens are made to return.
“I think it will be irresponsible on our part as a government to hurry our citizens back to liberated communities now mainly to go and vote because that will be very callous. We have pockets of insurgents in some villages, we have had attacks that are very recent on some routes. We all know that these liberated communities are still not fully safe and habitable,” he stated.
Shettima further queried the assumed safety of the recovered territories reasoning that some of the insurgents who were holing up in villages would constitute a menace if the IDPs were encouraged to return to their homes in communities such as Gamboru, Baga, Monguno, Malamfatori, Kala-Balge, Mafa and other places.
“What about the issue of landmines possibly planted there that everyone knows the military has been contending with?”
“All those politicians that stay in Abuja and cause all manner of confusion for Borno, if they are so certain that liberated communities are now safe, let them go and live in Gamboru like ordinary people. Why have they moved their entire families including their cats out of Maiduguri that is relatively safe not to talk of the local government areas?” he queried.
He stated further, “Why do they want our citizens to go to liberated communities and put their lives at risk knowing fully well that there is so much to be done. Apart from the issue of safety, there are decomposed bodies, we need to do so much fumigation and environmental cleansing, we need to rebuild homes destroyed, markets, schools, hospitals, many have been destroyed, we need to fix things because our citizens are human beings and they deserve to be treated as such.”
The governor said that his administration would set up a task force comprising critical stakeholders on evaluation, reconstruction, rehabilitation and re-integration of victims of the insurgency.
“It will be a multi-faith and multi-ethnic based so that every segment of the affected population is covered be it citizens, associations, government or institutions from security to all others. We have a serious work before us, it is not child’s play that some people are advocating for mainly for their selfish and dehumanizing interests. We must learn to put politics aside where the existence of our citizens are involved,” Shettima said.