Borno IDPs: The Truth about Why They Can’t Return Home




By Yemi Adebowale

My heart bleeds as I write this piece. The situation in the camps of Internally Displaced Persons, IDP in Borno State is heart-wrenching. The camps are overcrowded. Daily, hundreds die of hunger and diseases. Most of the promises made to them by governments, companies and individuals remain largely unfulfilled. This regular noise about drugs and food being sent to them is exaggerated. The demands of the IDPs far outweigh supply. For example, the grains supplied to them last year were less than 10% of their need.  The drugs and medical facilities are also inadequate for the estimated two million IDPs in formal and informal camps in the state. Recently, an international medical humanitarian organisation, Mé- decins Sans Frontières (MSF) also known as Doctors without Borders discovered over 1000 graves at the Bama camp. The MSF said on their inspection, it found about 1,233 graves, 480 of which contained children, located near the IDP camp.

The MSF Head of Mission in Nigeria, Ghada Hatim, stated: “For several hours on June 21, an MSF medical team was able to access the town of Bama, where 24,000 people, including 15,000 children (among them, 4,500 under five years of age) are sheltered in a camp located on a hospital compound. During those few hours, the MSF medical team discovered a health crisis – referring 16 severely malnourished children at immediate risk of death to the MSF inpatient therapeutic feeding centre in Maiduguri. A rapid nutritional screening of more than 800 children found that 19% were suffering from severe acute malnutrition – the deadliest form of malnutrition.”

It was the first time MSF was able to access Bama, and has now shown to the whole world that the needs of the IDPs there are beyond critical. Hatim, the MSF head added: “Bama is largely closed off. We have been told that people there, including children, have starved to death. According to the accounts given to MSF by displaced people in Bama, new graves are appearing on a daily basis. We were told that on certain days, more than 30 people were dying due to hunger and illness. Since May this year, at least 188 people had died in the camp and almost six people pass away daily mainly because of diarrhoea and malnutrition. In June, the MSF jointly with Nigerian authorities evacuated 1,192 people in need of medical treatment from the Bama area to Maiduguri.”

It is very sad to note that some people are even making money from the miseries in these IDP by collecting donations that never get to them. Some send a fraction of what they collect. The federal government makes so much noise, with very little action. The international community has also been grandstanding.

Nobody in the 32 IDP camps spread across Borno State is happy staying a day longer there. The environment is excruciating. Daily, they dream of returning home. They are desperate to return to their farms and businesses. But unfortunately, for now, they can’t return to their various towns and villages. The big question is: why would anybody choose to remain in these scruffy camps if their towns and villages had been truly liberated as we are being told? The whole truth is that these towns and villages are still unsafe despite liberation claims. For example, I can say it with full authority that Boko Haram terrorists are still roaming freely in three local government areas of Borno State – Abadam, Mobbar and Kala Balge. I challenge the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed to relocate his office to any of these three local government areas mentioned if he has contrary information.

Only three local government areas are, in the real sense of it, safe in Borno State. In 20 other local government areas, there are several challenges hindering the return of the IDPs, including remnants of Boko Haram terrorists waiting to devour the hapless people if they gamble to return home. In most of these places, the homes of the IDPs have been vandalised while deadly landmines are scattered in the towns and villages. How will these unfortunate people restart their lives with smashed homes?  When will the military start clearing these mines? When will this administration restore civil authority in these so-called recovered territories? When will they start restoring divisional police posts and police stations? When will this administration guarantee security that will encourage the IDPs to return home? So, who will return in the absence of these vital requirements? These are pertinent questions begging for answers.

Boko Haram attacks carried out last week in Damboa, Gaskeri and Rann

is a confirmation of my position that pockets of terrorists abound waiting to devour the IDPs if they return to their homes. They struck in Damboa last week Friday, killing six worshipers in a small mosque. A day earlier, three persons lost their lives when the terrorists attacked Gaskeri. Also last week, the terrorist had the courage to attack soldiers at their location at Rann, Kala Balge Local Government Area. Many will be shocked to know that the terrorists came with anti-aircraft guns, General Purpose Machine Gun and Rocket-Propelled grenade ammunition. They opened fire on homes, killing seven people, while panicked residents fled. 

The terrorists took food and drugs from the only clinic in the town. There was also an attack on a military position in Kangarwa on Tuesday during which two soldiers were killed.

From these horrific attacks, many can now see why the IDPs can’t return to their homes despite claims that the areas have been liberated. We must ensure honesty in this war against Boko Haram, if we are to achieve the desired result. Emphasis must be on how we can sincerely secure all these troubled towns and villages so that IDPs can return to their homes.  May Allah continue to protect our gallant soldiers as they continue the drive to truly liberate towns and villages occupied by the terrorists.

Fantastically-Tactical Hadiza Bala-Usman Gets Full Reward

Hadiza Bala Usman, co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) was my star of the week, as she received optimum reward for her strategic role in the 2015 presidential election. She got the plum job of Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), a reward for effectively using the BBOG to degrade and downgrade the Jonathan administration.  Many of us won’t forget in a hurry when few weeks back, genuine conveners of the Bring Back Our Girls movement accused the Buhari-led administration of losing sight of the promises it made to rescue over 219 Chibok girls who are still in Boko Haram’s captivity. In a press statement co-signed by Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, they said it was unfortunate that the Chibok girls, their parents and communities, Nigeria and the rest of the world are still awaiting a successful rescue mission as promised by Buhari. According to them, recent developments seem to suggest that officials of the present administration may have lost track of many promises of the government.

Our girls are still far from being free but Hadiza jumps from one appointment to another from a government that has failed to show genuine commitment to the rescue of the girls. It is now obvious that while the genuine BBOG campaigners were working, Hadiza’s ultimate goal was personal and not that of our hapless Chibok girls. She jumped ship immediately the election was won, to work as the Chief of Staff to Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State. 

Then came this ultimate reward this week. Hadiza, in the real sense of it, has never worked all her life. I really can’t fathom the experience this fantastically-tactical 40-year-old lady is bringing to the NPA. On a lighter note, I share something in common with Hadiza. We are both alumnus of the highly esteemed University of Leeds, United Kingdom. So, I wish my dear Hadiza the best of luck at NPA.

Kukah on Renewed Biafra Agitation

The position of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Most Rev Matthew Hassan Kukah on the renewed agitation for the actualisation of Biafran Republic is instructive. He recently said the agitation would not have arisen if this administration had adopted sound strategies to address issues raised. Kukah said: “The so-called movement for Biafra has gestated more as a result of the poor strategy that the government may have adopted in dealing with these issues. Nothing succumbs to mere mono-causality. Everything is always the result of many other isolated things that finally come together. Sometimes, it is more important to ask what may have provided the conditions.

“Extremism in whatever form operates in an environment of weak government’s presence, which tends to create a climate of corruption. This is why most of the violence often springs from the periphery of society where poverty exists. It is also the reasons why you hardly find violence expressed in places like Asokoro, Victoria Island or the GRAs where the big men and women live together surrounded by their wealth, power and privilege which enable them to live peacefully. Violence is bred by the fact that the poor are often fighting over water, for example, and other scarce commodities that the big men and women take for granted. Extremism thrives in the pools of poverty and destitution and its victims are often the foot soldiers.”

These are words of wisdom from Kukah who shared his thoughts during the launch of the 2016 edition of Truth Magazine, a publication of the Dominican Student Brothers in Ibadan. I sincerely hope President Muhammadu Buhari and his legion of sycophants are listening.

Abiola Ajimobi, the Butcher of Oyo State

The last five years have been harrowing for the people of Oyo State under Governor Abiola Ajimobi. This state has never had is so bad. Virtually all the gains of the state since creation have been wiped out by Ajimobi who seems to be on a mission to extinguish Oyo State. This once peaceful and lovely state has degenerated significantly, with decaying infrastructure. Public utilities are in a mess. Just visit any of the hospitals owned by the state government and you will be shocked at the state of these facilities. As I write this piece, everything in this failed state is at a standstill. Teachers and other civil servants are still on strike over seven months’ unpaid salaries. Teachers are also at war with Ajimobi over alleged plans to sell some public schools to his cronies. 

As a result, pupils in public schools have been at home for weeks. Union leaders opposed to his plans have been dubiously dragged to court by this maximum ruler. While Oyo State bleeds, Ajimobi and his cronies are living big. Some months back, this governor organised a lavish wedding party for his daughter in Dubai while the state bleds. His friends and cronies were flown to Dubai for the gig. The founding fathers of Oyo State must rise up against this maximum ruler called Ajimobi.

Lopsided Management Teams of Police, NPA and EFCC at a Glance

The Police

IGP Ibrahim Idris (Head)

AIG Abdul Bube (Secretary)

DIG Shuaibu Gambo

DIG Joshak Habila

DIG Maigari Abbati Dikko

DIG H.M. Dagala

DIG Emmanuel T. Inyang

DIG Ntom Chukwu

DIG Folusho A. Adebanjo


The NPA Team

Hadiza Bala-Usman (MD)

Mohammed Bello-Koko (ED)

Professor Idris Abubakar (ED)

Dr. Sekonde Davies (ED)


EFCC Team (Proposed)

Ibrahim Magu (Chairman)

Nasule Moses

Lawan Mamman

Galadanci Imam

Adeleke Rafiu

So, where is the equity in all these? Our president must be just and fair to all sections of this country.