1,200 People Displaced By Boko Haram Return Home

FILE PHOTO

 

At least 1,200 of the more than 100,000 people displaced by Boko Haram violence in Nigeria’s northeastern town of Bama have returned, officials and returnees said Thursday. 

Bama, a major trading hub on the road to Cameroon and home to 270,000 people, was captured in September 2014, forcing residents to flee to Maiduguri, the state capital.

Borno state information commissioner Mohammed Bulama told AFP the returnees are male residents coming back after the town was partly re-built.

“We have transported 1,200 persons to Bama in two batches on Monday and today (Thursday) as part of the phased return of residents that fled after Boko Haram invaded the town in 2014,” he said.

“We intend to gradually return over 100,000 people to Bama in coming months as part of the reconstruction, resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs (internally displaced persons) by the Borno state government,” he said.

One of the returnees, Umar Bukar, said they were screened and issued with a badge before being taken in trucks to the town under security escort.

Each returnee was given a bag of rice, a bag of millet with 10,000 naira ($27.70) to “start a new life,” said Bukar who spoke to AFP on the phone from the town.

He added that the male returnees would wait to see if the security situation has improved before bringing their families from Maiduguri.

The Boko Haram insurgency which broke out in 2009, has killed at least 20,000 and displaced more than 2.6 million, forcing them into camps and host communities.

By the time Bama was retaken by Nigerian troops in March 2015, 85 percent of the town had been destroyed by the Islamists.

State officials said it would require 40 billion naira (94 million euros, $111 million) to rebuild the town, a staggering amount in the impoverished region.

Abba Jato Mohammed, chairman of the state relocation committee told reporters last month some 11,000 houses had been reconstructed in Bama.

‘Security still a concern’ 

Bukar said only one-third of the town has since been rebuilt, but displaced residents said they were ready to return to rebuild their homes.

“We are ever willing to return to Bama and rebuild our homes on our own if the government allows us,” resident Mohammed Kassim told AFP.

“Given the pace of the reconstruction work it will take years to rebuild every home and we can’t wait that long,” he said.

The desire to return to their homes may be due to squalid conditions in camps where they rely on insufficient food handouts from donor agencies.

“Life in the camps is difficult, with little food, water and limited toilets. None of us would stay if we had a choice”, said another Bama displaced person, Kulo Gana.

In September last year, 3,000 displaced people hit the streets in Maiduguri to protest over food shortages and poor living conditions in the camps, demanding they be allowed to return home.

The previous month a cholera outbreak in the camps from a water shortage and poor sanitation killed around 50 people, mainly children.

The returnees, however, said they are still worried about possible Boko Haram attacks, especially after recent deadly attacks near Maiduguri.

“Security is still a source of concern to us which is why we all left our families back in Maiduguri for now,” Bukar said.

“We will wait until we assess the security situation before we decide if it is safe for them to join us.”

AFP

Borno Security Council Approves Return Of 120,000 IDPs To Bama

IDPs
IDPs at a camp (File)

 

The Borno State Security Council has approved the return of internally displaced persons dislodged from Bama Local Government Area to their hometown.

Secretary to the Borno State Government Usman Jidda conveyed the decision of the council in a press conference in Maiduguri, the state capital.

Bama local government is the most affected by the destruction of insurgency and has up to 120,000 IDPs, the highest in the state.

The affected IDPs would be returned in phases due to the large number of people involved.

According to the SSG, a special template is being designed to capture the essential personal data of all prospective returnees for the purpose of easy identification and clearance.

All IDPs who have been shortlisted to return would be accompanied by their respective district and ward heads.

He said, “The council after careful and meticulous assessment of the overall security situation in Bama town and its surroundings as well as the massive reconstruction effort of the state government, resolved that the time is now ripe and the atmosphere is favourable for the IDPs to go back to their homes in phases.”

This comes three days after the military open the Maiduguri/Bama/Banki road for the first time since 2014.

The Theatre commander operation Lafiya Dole Major General Rogers Nicholas assures civilians of their safety in and around Bama town.

Last year, the planned relocation of IDPs to Bama by the state government was shelved due to security concerns.

Military Reopens Maiduguri-Bama-Banki Road

Military Reopens Maiduguri-Bama-Banki Road

 

The Nigerian Military has reopened the Maiduguri-Bama-Banki Road, about four years after it was captured by Boko Haram terrorists.

The Deputy Governor of Borno State, Mr Usman Durkwa, cut the tape to reopen the road on Saturday.

He believes the development has proven the success in the collective fight against insurgency in the North East.

Durkwa, who praised the President for his relentless effort in ridding the country of terrorism, was also optimistic that the reopened road would enable the people to pick up the pieces of their past lives.

He said, “We thank President Muhammadu Buhari and the military leaders for standing by the people of Borno state. May God continue to assist us to see that we return Borno State to its former status as the home of peace.”

 

The deputy governor further assured the security agencies that the state government would continue to provide them with all the necessary machinery to succeed until they get a lasting solution.

He added that the government would provide necessary support to ensure that all displaced persons from various communities return to their original homes.

The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Rogers Nicholas, revealed that Cameroonian troops were part of the successful clearance operations which resulted in the re-opening of the once dangerous road.

He was also hopeful that the reopening of the road would not only enhance the commencement of economic activities but also encourage insurgents to surrender.

The road leading to border town Banki was unceremoniously shut down in September 2014 when insurgents dislodged Bama and its environs.

The crisis had crippled the booming trans-border activities in Banki and Gwoza, one of the economic hubs in the state.

Bama LGA is one of the biggest city in the state with tertiary institutions and the closure of the Maiduguri-Bama-Banki Road has left more than 20,000 locals displaced and living in makeshift camps with many others living in the host community.

The reopening of the road for civilian is expected to see to the resumption of trade across borders for residents who suffered setbacks for years.

One of the residents, Mohammadu Auwal, told Channels Television in Hausa that peace has returned to the community.

He said: “There are people near the border like the Cameroonians; they will cross over and buy from us and since the border has been reopened, we’ll continue our business like we used to do by God’s grace.”

While some residents are concerned about how safe the 75-kilometre road is, others noted that they are more interested to return to their ancestral homes.

Borno Govt. Enrolls 250 Displaced Students For 2017 WAEC Exams

Borno Govt. Enroll 250 Displaced Students For 2017 WAEC ExamsThe Borno State Government, has enrolled 250 internally displaced boys and girls to sit for the 2017 West African Examination Council’s (WAEC), graduation exams for secondary school students.

94 girls and 156 boys from different Local Governments in the state whose schools and communities were attacked ‎by Boko Haram, resulting in their displacement are the beneficiaries of the government’s benefits.

It was the first time Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’S) are writing the WAEC since they were forced out of their homes by Boko Haram insurgents at different times in 2014.

The students are mostly from Kukawa, Gwoza, Ngala, Bama, Monguno, Guzamala and Nganzai Local Government Areas.

The students wrote practicals on Wednesday at three WAEC centres; Government College, Government Girls College and ‎Mustapha Umar Elkanemi Arabic Teachers College all in Maiduguri.

The 250 IDPs were those who passed a special mock exam conducted for about 1,000 IDPs who were in final year at secondary schools before they were displaced.

The mock exams were meant to evaluate the IDPs that were able to catch up after undergoing classes and comprehensive tutorials organized for them in camps on the orders of the state governor, Kashim Shettima.

“Governor Kashim Shettima released funds to the Borno State Emergency Management Agency which was used to pay the WAEC fees of all the students.

“Mock exam was organized for over 1,000 IDPs but out of them, 250 did well and were believed to be emotionally and academically set for the 2017 WAEC”, the Government House statement said.

Governor Shettima had authorized the purchase of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) forms for the 250 students while some of the 1,000 IDPs who showed some good signs after the mock exams will receive further coaching.

“They will undergo more tutorials to prepare them for the next WAEC examinations in their communities, since the government doesn’t hope that they remain IDP’S by 2018”, the statement concluded.

Ndume Advocates Improved Allocation For Northeast Intervention

Ali Ndume, Northeast Intervention, Budget AllocationThe Senate Committee Chairman on Finance, Ali Ndume, says the Federal Government’s 45 billion naira allocation in the 2017 budget for intervention in Nigeria’s Northeast is not adequate.

Senator Ndume, a member of the Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiative (PCNI), made the observation after the PCNI visited the Borno State Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa.

The group’s visit was to declare its donation of food items which were offloaded at the warehouse of the National Emergency Management Agency in Maiduguri.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank the international community; and I have said this even on the floor of the National Assembly that the contribution of the international community and its commitment to the humanitarian crisis we have in the northeast is more than that of the government.

“We are now calling on the government using this medium to at least take the lead or match what the international communities do,” Ndume said.

The senator noted further that foreign aid and commitment to the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have continued to dwarf government’s effort over the years.

“So far the humanitarian response plan under what we call UNOCHA is budgeting $1.05 billion for 2017 (and) if you turn that into Naira, it translates into over 300 billion Naira.

“As at December last year, $449 million was donated by the international community; that also represents about 130 billion Naira.

“Unfortunately last year, the Nigerian Government budgeted only 12 billion Naira. In this year’s budget, it budgeted only 45 billion Naira (and) that also is grossly inadequate.

“So we ask the Borno State government to join us and other members of the National Assembly that are crying out to the government and to the leadership of the National Assembly to increase the budget for the intervention in the northeast from a paltry 45 billion Naira to at least 108; that is our call.” Senator Ndume stated.

Mr Durkwa, on his part, thanked the PCNI for the food donations which he said would go a long way in complementing the feeding of the IDPs.

He, however, urged donors to consider providing building materials in subsequent interventions to speed up the resettling process of the displaced persons.

“We say we are grateful and we ask for more. Now that we are in the post-insurgency stage, it’s time to now carry out constructions and resettle our people back to their base.

“That means we expect more apart from the food security. We are still asking for building materials to complement the effort of the state government,” the deputy governor stated.

The Borno State government is presently carrying out rebuilding of homes destroyed by the Boko Haram terrorists in Bama, Gwoza, Konduga and Kaga local government area of the state.

Rann Bombing: 54 Victims In Stable Condition, Government Official Says

Rann bombing, accidental bombing
Photo Credit: Reuters

Fifty-four victims of the Nigerian Air Force accidental bombing in Rann, Kala-Balge Local Council of Borno State are in stable conditions at different hospitals where they are receiving treatment, a government official said on Wednesday.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Haruna Mshelia, told reporters that the victims were receiving treatment at three hospitals located in Maiduguri.

Giving a breakdown of the locations of the 54 victims, Dr. Mshelia said ‎32 persons were receiving treatment at the State Specialist Hospital; 16 were being treated at Seven Division Military Hospital in Maimalari Barracks while six persons are hospitalised at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

The Commissioner said all the 54 hospitalised victims were in stable conditions, with medical experts from the State, humanitarian partners and the military attending to their health needs.

“It is still too early to give an accurate number of deaths because as at the time of issuing the update, evacuation of survivors is still ongoing with four helicopters provided by the United Nations and the Nigerian Air Force airlifting the victims,” he said.

Dr. Mshelia also told reporters that bodies were still being recovered.

The Commissioner said humanitarian partners like the MSF, International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the United Nations and different stakeholders have been extremely dedicated to the emergency evacuation and medical response.

Meanwhile Governor Kashim Shettima has since morning deployed his Deputy, Usman Mamman Durkwa and the House of Representatives member, representing Kala-Balge, Bama, Dikwa and Ngala Federal Constituency of Borno State, Mamman Nur Sheriff among other officials to the scene of the incident at Rann, Headquarters of Kala-Balge Local Government Area in order to assess the situation and supervise evacuation of victims to Maiduguri.

The State Ministry of Health has already put in place an emergency medical response team to coordinate rehabilitation of victims, the statement said.

After the bombing, the military said it was a regrettable mistake.

The spokesman for the military Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar, confirmed the incident to Channels Television.

He explained that that it was an error deeply regretted by the military.

The military spokesman said the incident did not occur in an Internally Displaced Persons’ camp, as being reported by in some quarters but a settlement said to be occupied by civilians.

Brigadier General Abubakar explained that soldiers got information of movement of Boko Haram members in the Kala-balge area and deployed ground troops and air cover to tackle the terrorists.

According to him, it was the air support that mistakenly dropped the bomb.

FG Committee Donates Seized Bags Of Rice To Borno IDPs

female-idp-cookingThe National Logistics Committee on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), has donated seized bags of rice to the Borno state government, for onward distribution to victims of insurgency.

The exercise was carried out by the Nigerian Customs, as part of government’s plan to cushion the effect of the insurgency on citizens.

The donation consisted of 11,517 bags of rice, seized and declared contraband by law.

The Assistant Comptroller General, Umar Sanusi, explaining the source of the donation said: “This rice did not come from heaven – actually these were seized at the border and any other place where there was infraction against the federal government.

“So these are products caught by the Nigerian Customs and condemned by the court of law and forfeited to the government for distribution to people affected by insurgency.”

Mr Umar furthermore said that more items including clothing, should be expected in the coming weeks as the harmattan and yuletide approaches.

In his acceptance remarks, Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, explained that the state is overwhelmed by the alarming number of IDPs, especially those living in the host communities.

“IDP camps in Maiduguri consists only 158,000 people. In the satellite camps across the state in Pulka, Dikwa, Gamboru Ngala, Bama, Banki, Biu and Monguno the total number of people may not exceed 300,000.

“But within the host community here in Maiduguri we have over a million people on the verge of extinction.

“The food security challenge being faced by the IDPs living within the host community is more precarious than those living in camps.

“To me, they are the VIPs, at least they are getting two meals per day but those living in the host community are in far worse shape than we could imagine,” Shettima stated.

He called for more support to make life easier for the displaced.

Nigerian Air Force Repels Boko Haram Attack In Kangarwa

Nigerian Air Force, Boko Haram, KangarwaThe Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has repelled an attack by the Boko Haram terrorists on its ground troops at Kangarwa in northern Borno State.

Following the report of the attack, three fighter jets and a reconnaissance aircraft were immediately deployed for the operation.

A statement by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, revealed that the troops averted the attack on Sunday.

The statement reads in part:

“While the fighter aircraft were scrambled to repel the attack, the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft was deployed to give guidance to ground troops on the position equipment and strength of the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs).

“The operation which started at about 1700 hours (5pm) continued till late evening at about 1915 hours (7:15pm) before the attack was successfully repelled.

“Before repelling the attack at Kangarwa, the NAF also conducted a number of day and night operations yesterday.

“The air interdiction missions were aimed at decimating the operational capability of the insurgents.

“The operations were carried out at Kashimeri, Tumbu Gini, Chukugudu and other BHT strongholds from where the insurgents launch attack on Bama and neighbouring settlements”.

Five Soldiers, Three Others Killed As Terrorists Ambush Troops

Military, Troops, Boko Haram, YobeFive soldiers, three vigilantes and one Civilian JTF member have been killed in an ambush on troops in Ugundiri village, Damboa Local Government Area, Borno State.

The Operation Lafiya Dole troops, who were carrying out clearance operations on suspected Boko Haram terrorists’ hideouts in Talala and Ajigin, southern part of the state were ambushed while returning to base after clearance operations on Saturday.

The attack also left 19 soldiers and one Civilian JTF member with various degrees of injuries.

According to Army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman, the bodies of the dead soldiers and civilians have been evacuated to Maiduguri while the injured are receiving appropriate medical care and are in stable condition.

He stated further that the troops were able to destroy the terrorists’ gun truck and recovered two anti-aircraft guns, two spare gun barrels, one general purpose machine gun, one rocket propelled grenade, one AK-47 rifle and 320 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.

Troops have also been mobilized into blocking positions to further neutralize fleeing Boko Haram terrorists.

He added that another set of troops had earlier cleared Zira, Abulam, Dusula, and Buk villages before returning to base in Bulabulin.

“In a related development, based on information received about gathering of some suspected Boko Haram terrorists around Bori village, which is 16 kilometres away from Mainok, outskirts of Maiduguri, troops swung into action and neutralized them.

“The troops recovered three motorcycles, one hand grenade, one round of 7.62mm ammunition, solar panel, a pair of Niger Republic military camouflage uniform, one mobile telephone handset, one wet cell battery and half bag of groundnut,” he said.

Troops Intercept Suspected Boko Haram Drugs, Logistics Suppliers In Borno

suspeceted-boko-haram-drug-supplierTroops of Operation Lafiya Dole on patrol from Bama to Pulka, intercepted suspected Boko Haram terrorists’ drugs and other logistics suppliers in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State.

The suppliers were arrested at a suspected Boko Haram terrorists crossing point within Firgi and Zawan axis while trying to cross into Sambisa forest on Sunday.

A statement by the spokesman for the army, Colonel Sani Usman, said that the troops pursued them but were only able to apprehend two of them while others fled into the bush.

Items recovered from Kadiri Umate, 35, were packets of 500ml of Glocose Intravenous infusion (Drip), assorted analgenics and pain killer drugs, clothes, bathroom slippers, insecticides, salt, kola nuts and a bicycle.

The suspect is undergoing preliminary investigations.

In another operation at Muna garage, a suspected Boko Haram terrorists’ logistics and fuel supplier, Fantoma Lasani, was arrested by troops in conjunction with Civilian JTF at Muna garage when he came to pick his wife to finally relocate out of Maiduguri.

“The suspect, from Flatari village, Bama Local Government Area, is among some unpatriotic elements in the society that had been supplying Boko Haram terrorists with Premium Motor Spirit and Automative Gas Oil in Bama, Gwoza and Sambisa general area,” the statement added.

They were arrested hours after troops of the Operation Lafiya Dole on Sunday morning averted the plans of a suicide bomber along Damboa road in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

Eyewitnesses say the suicide bomber was sighted along Damboa road, the same place where an explosion occurred barely 24 hours ago.

Frightened motorists travelling to Damboa-Biu were forced to turn back due to confusion.

Channels Television’s reporter who was at the Bakassi IDP camp reports that the suspect fled towards the back fence of the camp, where five people were killed on Saturday, with men of the sector Nine and civilian JTF in hot pursuit of the assailant.

Gov. Shettima Cuts Tour Short, As Borno Cabinet Member Passes On

Shettima_BornoThe Borno State Commissioner for ‎Environment, Alhaji Waziri Imam, has died at the age of 54.

This development has made Governor Kashim Shettima to end his temporary relocation to Bama and tour of destroyed communities after visiting Chibok, Gwoza, Askira-Uba and Damboa local government areas, all in southern parts of Borno State.

The death of the Commissioner was confirmed in a statement by the Secretary to Borno State Government, Usman Jidda Shuwa.

The Commissioner, who is a younger brother to an APC national chieftain, Alhaji Kashim Imam, died after a brief illness in Maiduguri on Wednesday morning.

He is survived by a wife and six children.

The Governor left Bama on Tuesday after nearly one wee‎k of Relocation to mobilize major reconstruction works.

Shettima visited Pulka, a populated village in Gwoza Local Government Area and also assessed destruction and ongoing reconstruction works in Gwoza town during which he interacted with thousands of residents that have since returned to their communities.

The Governor proceeded to Lassa for assessment before passing the night in Uba, another community in Askira-Uba Local Government Area, which was liberated from Boko Haram.

The Governor was also in Askira town, headquarters of Askira-Uba Local Government Area and met with the Emir.

The Governor left for Chibok to assess reconstruction works and interacted with some stakeholders before cutting his trip back to Maiduguri following the demise of his cabinet member.

The late commissioner was buried on Wednesday evening in Maiduguri in accordance to Islamic rites.

Air Force Establishes New Hospital For IDPs In Bama

Sadique Abubakar, Bello Abubakar, Niger, Military
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar,

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has established a hospital in Bama, a town in Borno State, formerly occupied by Boko Haram insurgents, as part of its medical outreach.

Bama is home to 25, 000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), consisting mostly women and kids.

The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, gave the state governor, Mr Kashim Shettima, a tour of the hospital, equipped to meet the health needs of the residents.

The Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the coordinating agency for humanitarian services in the state, believe that collaboration between sister agencies and support from the Nigerian Air Force medical team is responsible for the seamless defeat of malnutrition in the camp.

“The government of Borno State in conjunction with NEMA and the 31 NGOS working together were able to work together. So many tents have been built, water supply has improved and we now have two health facilities and food system has improved to meet the needs of this IDP camp.”

The health facility, initiated by the Nigerian Air Force in Bama, is an extension of the Dalori IDP camp in Maiduguri, which has been conducting surgeries for sick IDPS, at no cost, where necessary.

Explaining the vision behind the Air Force Medical Outreach, Air Chief Abubakar, said he believes that gaining the confidence of locals in the area of operations is key to winning the counter insurgency war.

Bama and Gwoza local councils of Borno State have the highest number of IDPS living in camps and the host communities.

Governor Kashim Shettima has assured that the state government is engaging in fruitful partnerships with the Presidential Initiative for rebuilding North East (PINE) and others, to facilitate the quick return of IDPS and closure of camps.

The Nigerian Air Force is a beneficiary of a N20 million grant from PINE, in support of its medical outreach.

Malnutrition among IDPs in Borno State was first reported in the unofficial camp in Bama Local Council Area.

A large part of the population of the IDPs in the Bama camp are former captives of the insurgents, who regained their freedom following intensive military operations.

At least 3, 000 malnourished persons, mostly kids, had to be evacuated to Maiduguri, the capital city for treatment and proper nutrition.

Nine weeks on, the narrative of the IDPS has changed, as they speak of changes in their diets and improved medicare.

Gohna Alkali, an IDP in the Bama camp said “we are no longer hungry, we now have food. We have doctors here taking care of us, and food and clothes we do not have any problems. They give us spaghetti for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch and semovita for dinner we are grateful to God”, he said.