Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum was at the weekend in Diffa, Niger Republic to arrange the repatriation of about 120,000 refugees back to Nigeria.
The refugees, mostly from Northern part of Borno State had trekked into Nigerien soil at the peak of the Boko Haram crisis few years ago.
A statement issued yesterday by the spokesman of the governor, Mallam Isa Gusau said his boss’ visit to Niger was to contribute in working out the modalities for the safe and dignified repatriation of the refugees to resettlement communities in Borno.
He said about three weeks ago, Zulum had hosted a high- level meeting in Abuja, which had in attendance officials from federal Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; the National Commission for Refugees, and Internally Displaced Persons; and the National Emergency Management Agency to discuss repatriation of Borno citizens from Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
He said after the governor’s Abuja meeting, he travelled to Bosso, Garin Wanzam and Tumur, all in Diffa province at the weekend to meet the refugees’ host governor of Diffa, Mr. Isa Lameen to discuss the modalities for the refugees repatriation.
The statement said the governor led a delegation including the Speaker, Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Abdulkarim Lawan, and other top officials of the state government.
According to Gusau, Zulum travelled to Diffa from Malam-Fatori, headquarters of Abadam Local Government Area in Northern Borno, which had been a stronghold of Boko Haram insurgents, until it was recently liberated by the military.
He said the governor’s trip to Malam-fatori, is the first time in more than five years that a civilian governor entered Diffa province in Niger Republic on the same day.
He said Zulum while addressing top officials in Diffa, expressed his gratitude to government of the province, the government of Niger Republic and the host communities in the country for being hospitable to Borno citizens.
He said the Borno State Governor particularly thanked his host, Lameen of Diffa province, for his empathy and compassion towards the Nigerian refugees.