By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The tear gassing of harmless Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by the police during a peaceful protest against food deprivation in Teachers Village Camp, Maiduguri, Borno State, last Tuesday caught the attention of House of Representatives Committee on IDPs, Refugees and North-east, which wondered why government had to degenerate so low.
The committee Chairman, Hon Sani Zorro, in a statement Friday, described as “unfortunate” the situation where IDPs deprived of food and basic needs for survival were brutally suppressed for crying over the injustices they face daily.
He said the federal government must urgently supply desperately needed items to the IDPs without further delay and punish the perpetrators and beneficiaries of stolen food and other items belonging to the displaced persons.
A former President, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Zoro, assured Nigerians that his committee is prepared to share vital information capable of fishing out the culprits, no matter how highly placed.
He bemoaned that despite the outcry to relevant authorities about the theft of food and other aid items procured by state resources by highly-placed politicians, nothing has been done to stop them from converting IDP food and other items as campaign tools in the countdown to the general election.
“The committee wishes to express sadness over the protest by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at Teachers Village camp in Maiduguri, and the needless resort to the use of tear gas to disperse them by the police.
“It is on record that the authorities concerned have continued to deprive the starving and desperate IDPs of food and non-food items whose every day complaints, pleas, and outcries only fell on the deaf ears of insensitive officials charged with their care. Sadly, massive consignments of these food and non-food items procured with state resources are now either at varying stages of expiration, or are being shared (in the open) to highly-placed politicians for use as campaign tools in the countdown to our general election.
“Evidence also abound of the age-old diversion and illegal sale of humanitarian assistance items in the open market. This is evil at its best, reprehensible and unacceptable to all men and women of conscience.
“The Committee urges the federal government to act as a matter of supreme urgency by ensuring immediate supply of the desperately needed items without further delay and punish the perpetrators and beneficiaries of the inhumane crime. As part of its oversight functions, the committee is willing and ready to share vital information capable of fishing out the culprits no matter how highly placed.”