From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
Over a dozen of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) seated near a tent at the Mohammed Goni College of Legal and Islamic camp for displaced victims of Boko Haram insurgency in Maiduguri, capital of Northeast Borno State, were engrossed in their discussions. It was midday and the men, all middle-aged, were oblivious of the reporter’s presence near them despite several salutations.
“We are not happy about what happened here,” Umar Bukar, who appeared to be the most elderly among the men, finally said after noticing the reporter.
Another also muttered some incomprehensible words. The genesis of their unhappiness, Sunday Sungathered, was the unscheduled visit of the state governor, Babagana Zulum to the camp and the alleged discovery of ‘fake’ IDPs in the official list from the camp managers.
Governor’s dusk visit
Governor Zulum had made a surprise visit to the Mohammed Goni Legal and Islamic Studies IDPs camp at about 10:30p.m last Saturday and personally supervised a headcount of the IDPs, an exercise which lasted till about 1:00a.m on Sunday, the governor spokesman, Isa Gusau, disclosed in a statement.
“Around midnight on Sunday, Borno governor, Babbagana Zulum showed up at Mohammed Goni College of Legal and Islamic Studies in Nigeria where the internally displaced persons from Abadam Local Government of northern Borno were being camped,” Gusau said, adding that Zulum discovered that 650 households of the 1000 households recorded by the camp managers, are fake or non-existent.
“Governor Zulum’s mission, which ended past 1:00a.m, discovered that out of 1000 households in the record of humanitarian officials, 650 housholds were ghost; 450 households were found to be real IDPs,” he said.
A household, according to the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), consist of at least six persons; the father, mother and children. This means about 4, 000 persons were considered as fake IDPs by the governor.
Some of the IDPs in the camp have been reacting to the development. They insisted some of them were shut out by the governor as soon as he arrived at the camp on Saturday night.
“Some of us were still outside the camp playing when the governor came and ordered the gate be shut down,” 29-year-old Bakura Data told Sunday Sun.
When asked if the IDPs were aware of the curfew time is 10:30p.m, which expects all IDPs to be in their camp, he said that the arrival of heat pushed some IDPs to stay out though nearby, but prevented from entering the camp after the governor had shut the door. “Some were shut out and couldn’t get in because the governor had already asked us to line up,” he said.
Also reacting, Ali Bukar, 45, maintained that the declaration of some IDPs who were not at the camp on the day of the governor’s visit, was a haste decision. He said that some IDPs from Abadam LocaL Government in northern Borno that fled to Maiduguri in late 2014 and early 2015, took refuge at the camp, but later moved into the city for better accommodation.
“They are strill IDPs. They come to the camp everyday from the town. Some of them moved out of here because they said they got places to live. Some said they are tired of life at the camp and want to start work,” he said.
Adam, 44, told Sunday Sun that he lives in a room apartment with his family of four.
He said that he resolved to get accommodation within the city after weeks of works on a construction site. “We are always waiting for food and always hungry. The food ratio wasn’t sufficient, so I went out to work at a site. I later moved out,” he disclosed. Four of his colleagues affected by the governor’s March 7 visit and head-count also shared similar story. They said the food ration was insufficient for their families.
Usman Bukar said that three measures of grains, rice and beans, were given to each of the household. “How do you expect the food to be sufficient?” he asked.
Director General, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Hajiya Yabawa Kolo told Sunday Sun that the reduction of the food ratio was a national issue.
“There is a memorandum of understanding between the Federal Government and Borno Sate on food aid to IDPs. While the NEMA provides the foodstuffs, SEMA provides condiments. There is a reduction in food ration from 55kg of rice per household to 10kg,” she explained.
She, however, declined to comment on the ghost IDPs.