- Says NEMA deliberately sidelines them on the basis of religion
- Army chief not truthful on Boko Haram defeat
Paul Obi in Abuja
Christians from seven local government areas in Adamawa State tuesday accused the federal government of bias and discrimination in the rehabilitation of the North-east geo-political zone ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.
The accusations came on the heels of recent allegations by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), accusing the acting President Yemi Osinbajo of sitting on the fence while Christians are being hacked to death and their property destroyed by Boko Haram and other religious extremists in the North.
The Christians drawn from Gombi, Hong, Madagali, Michika, Maiha, Mubi North and Mubi South decried the systemic discrimination against them by the federal government, particularly, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the rehabilitation of victims affected by the Boko Haram terrorism.
They argued that all palliatives and interventions initiated by government through the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative (PCNI), NEMA and the state government have tilted their interventions and humanitarian assistance in favour of Muslims to the outright neglect of the Christian communities in the state.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja yesterday, the leader of the state Christian group, Rev Paul Alhamdu, said: “With great hope and expectations, we have heard announcements and news about relief and rehabilitation coming to our communities.
“Most of our people are not in Internall Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps but with friends and relatives in communities. Relief items brought to the communities are usually taken to the palace of Emirs and traditional rulers.
“The sharing of these relief materials are usually done in discrimination against us (Christians), for example, NEMA brought some relief materials on the 31st March, 2015 in Mubi North and Mubi South Local Government Areas, and our people did not get a share from the relief materials.
“We feel neglected by our leaders at every level. The primary responsibility of government is the security and welfare of its people but our government has not compensated us, neither are we being cared for effectively.
“Series of panels of investigation have been set, many groups have asked for our details and statistics of losses and we have seen reports that have come out of the findings into our situation as a people, but we are yet to see the implementation of these findings.”
He explained that given that the Boko Haram sect perpetually targets Christian communities, schools, churches and businesses, government has not responded to their plight fairly.
“Even though we have heard that the government is investing heavily in restoring North-east, we advise that they check to see how effective it has been,” he stated.
They also took a swipe at the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt General Tukur Buratai, stating that his penchant for misinforming the public on the defeat of Boko Haram insurgents has now reached a new level.
Alhamdu told journalists: “We even hear of the total defeat of Boko Haram but when we examine our situation realistically, it has been hope against hope for too long as it is yet to be completely true for us. Even though the world is focused on killing Shekau and liberating the North-east, we still see the activities of Shekau in the way we are treated by government.
“There are instances of the military saying that they have defeated Boko Haram, one of such instances was when Buratai said: ‘We have more than degraded Boko Haram. As a result of this kind of declaration, we came out of our hiding only to find out that the reality on ground was different’.
“We are continually called upon to return to our communities as safety is now guaranteed and normalcy has returned, yet we are still very unsafe as we cannot go to our farms; some of those who have tried have been killed in cold blood,” Alhamdu said.
On his part, Rev. Sabestine Handre said though the military have achieved successes in certain areas, the information by the army to the public was somehow misleading.
Handre stated: “The COAS made that statement based on the success they achieved in other places. We believe that is not absolute; there has not been any complete success. He has not lied, but he has also not said the whole truth.”
Further, Rev. Saul Danzaria explained that currently, the number of military officers on ground is not enough to stop completely attacks by the Boko Haram sects.
Danzaria added that notwithstanding the presence of the military in Mubi town, most villages are prone to attacks given the absence of soldiers in villages spread across the seven local government areas.