‘We Want To Go Back Home’, IDPs In Camps Insist
Internally Displaced Persons in a camp in Bama say they want to go back home even if it means trekking back to their communities.
They made their intentions known in a peaceful demonstration on Sunday under the umbrella of the Bama Initiative for Human Development, a Non-Governmental Organisation.
This is coming days after the military said no community was under the control of Boko Haram in the northeast.
According to the displaced persons led by Mr Muhammad Hassan, it is time to go back to their communities and continue their normal activities in view of the prevailing peace in the state.
About 70% of the reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in their communities had been completed and Mr Hassan said they were tired of living as displaced persons for years.
“We are in Maiduguri for more than 3 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.
Most of the displaced persons in the camp are traumatised, coupled with serious neglect and poor living condition which Mr Hassan highlighted.
“They are ready to trek back to Bama,” he insisted.
The demonstration was, however, quelled by the Police, stopping them from embarking on the proposed trek back home.
Police had advised them to drop the idea for their safety.
The Police Commissioner in the state, Mr Damian Chukwu, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the group had not notified the command of their planned return to Bama.
In his reaction, Governor Kashim Shettima urged the IDPs to cooperate with government to fast-track the completion of rehabilitation projects in the town.
There are also arrangement on ground to ensure their safety and to keep Boko Haram away from the communities.
A spokesman for the Governor, Isa Gusau, stated that a special squad and the agro-rangers, specifically trained to secure farmers in their farmlands would replace the military to ensure safety of the returnees.
“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 added.