The Borno State Police Command have arested many IDPs in connection with the yesterday botched protest to return back to their ancestral home after more than three years of exile from Boko Haram crisis.
The Nation reports that some displaced people from Bama in the early hours of Sunday staged a protest at the welcome to Maiduguri, Bama/Maiduguri high way close to unversity of Maiduguri gate II to push foward their resolve to return to Bama where they have been displaced by the Boko Haram crisis for more than three years.
The protest which was coordinated by Bama Initiative for Human Development, led by their their Chairman, Alhaji muhammad Hassan, said they are not satisfied with the snail process of returning them home hence the need for them to embark on the journey to go back “even if it means by trekking to Bama” .
He noted that 70 per cent of the reconstruction and rehabilitation projects hadģ been completed in the area, saying that they were tired of living as displaced persons. “We are in Maiduguri for more than three years without meaningful means of livelihoods. The condition of our people is pathetic. The elongation in the process of returning displaced persons to their homes is moving at a snail pace and exposed them to unbearable conditions. “We could no longer send our children to school; many have died of hunger and starvation. Most of us live in host communities and no one is supporting us,” Hassan stated.
Mr Damian Chukwu, the Police Commissioner in the state, said that the group had not notified the command over their planned return to Bama. He advised the IDPs to dialogue with the state government and other stakeholders over their demand so that adequate preparations would be made. “The police have a duty to protect you and we will not allow you to gather people and expose them to danger in the name of home return.
“Also, there is massive reconstruction and rehabilitation works going on in the town, executed by the Federal and State Government under the Bama Initiative. We will not allow you to go because of your safety, you better go back and wait for the time when government will permit your return to the town,” he said.
Our correspondent gathered that despite the effort of the police Commissioner and his advice to the protesters, some of them refused to listen to the plea and rather turned riotous giving the police no option but to arrest them.
A police source confirm to our correspondent in Maiduguri that a good number of the protesters including the leadership are in police custody and they would be prosecuted. “I cannot believe that despite the subtle approach and caution by the CP to these people, some of them went riotous and we were left with no choice but to arrest them. It is the duty of the police to protect lives and property at the same time maintain law and order,” the source informed.
Meanwhile, there is a papable apprehension in the air for a possible of more protest from IDPs within Maiduguri metropolis as the news of the arrest continues to spread among the camps.
In the spirit of reconciliation, Borno State Government called on the protesting IDPs to be patient and give his government more time to actualize their return.
Gov. Kashim Shettima who spoke through his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy said government is nothe in any way holding back the return of IDPs as they are rather economic burden to the state.
“It is to the government’s advantage if IDPs return home because their return will lessen economic burden of supporting them as displaced persons.
“The greatest wish of the governor is the safe and dignified return of all IDPs to their communities. Much as he wants the IDPs to return, he is also concerned about their safety.
“Gov. Shettima is consistently committed to the ongoing rebuilding of private homes, police stations, hospitals, schools, water facilities, markets, council secretariats and other essential services in communities across 15 local government areas of the state,’’ Gusau said.
Gusau further explained that government had constructed 20,000 housing units in Bama and provided modern health facilities, schools and police stations in the area. He added that the Federal Government was currently training a special Anti-Terrorism Squad and Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) to be deployed to the town under the Bama Initiative.
According to him, the special squad and the agro-rangers, specifically trained to secure farmers in their farmlands would replace the military.
“We have to ensure that there is full return of civil security before IDPs can return. “The governor encourages safe and dignified return only after putting the right things in place,” Gusau said.
He disclosed that the state government had re-built houses and re-settled displaced persons in parts of Kaga, Konduga and Gwoza Local Government Areas of the state. Newsmen report that thousands of persons were forced to flee their homes when the Boko Haram insurgents sacked Bama town in 2014. Hundreds of people were killed, maimed or abducted while the entire structures in the town were razed by the insurgents.
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