Samuel Bello, Tunde Ezu and Abimbola Adeluyi
Nothing could be as torturous as homelessness. Little wonder, East or West, home remains the best. It becomes more traumatic when you have a home but cannot access it for fear of insecurity. This is exactly what the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the Durumi camp in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, are going through presently. Forced out of their homes and comfort zones mostly from states in the North East by the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, the IDPs seem to have murdered sleep.
Despite promises made by the Federal Government to ensure healthy living at the IDPs camp, it has become obvious that the only thing that makes life meaningful is just the roofs over their heads. The inmates have been facing one form of challenge after the other, ranging from crime and criminality, constant harassment by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) for payment of electricity bill to failure of government to assist them in the provision of fertilizer for their farming.
Miffed by the myriad of problems weighing them down, the occupants of Durumi IDP camp told Daily Sun that the most disturbing is the constant terror robbers have continued to unleash on them, lamenting they have made life very unbearable to them.
Decrying the spate of attacks, they said that it is more unnerving when they operate without any form of help or intervention from the security agents, disclosingit that they have lost valuables like cellphones, money and generating sets among others.
Beyond the robbery, they told our correspondent, the diploration situation facing the children in the camp, adding that the state of displaced children in the camp is agonizing.
Chairman of Durumi IDP camp, Ibrahim Ahmadu, said: “The entrance gate has been bad for more than three years and government has not made any attempt to fix or assist in fixing it. We need a gate to reduce the theft going on in this area.
“There is no security provided for us, instead we are the ones that secure one another. We have reported to the police at Area 1 Division several times but they have not visited or come to our aid.”
He explained that the rampant of robbery has continued to increase to the extent that even him became a victim recently when he was robbed of his handset through the net of his window around 3.00am while he was fast asleep:
“Our generators have also gone missing countless times due to this same insecurity. The rate at which the robbers disposses us of our valuables is becoming alarming but we seem to be helplessly and hopelessly at their mercies. We have resigned to fate since help has refused to come from relevant authorities despite our several complaints.
“Apart from the constant robbery incidences, which is now becoming a daily occurence, we also lack source of water supply. There are boreholes, but we need the stolen generators to pump the water because there is no adequate electricity supply.
“The AEDC comes to harass us every month for electricity bills, compelling us to tax everybody in the camp to settle them. At times, when it cannot be met, they would disconnect the cables, resulting in total blackout and no water that supply for that period.
“We lack adequate health facilities and drugs that would assist our medication needs. The National Hospital comes to our camp from time to time but there is not enough provision for medication.” He complained that their major source of income, farming, has been neglected by the government:
“Government does not provide tools and fertilisers to be used for farming which would bring us little money. We were cultivating groundnuts, corns, but not anymore since we don’t have the finance to carry on.”
Another inmate, Musa, lamented: “They came into my room and raped my wife. They went away with my plasma television and a sum of N170,000. Despite the presence of vigilantes around us, there seems to be no end to theft instead it has continued to escalate every day.”
A student at the IDPs camp, Nana, expressed disappointment that many of the children in the camp have no access to education: “The children are not allowed to go to school. It is only 14 years above that are allowed to go and they would start from primary one.
“They do not also give us the privileges of benefitting from the various empowerment programmes government promised to provide. The camp chairman said we cannot enjoy those privileges just because we are not married. Even if you are married, it is still not a guarantee; the only way you can enjoy the empowerment programmes is when you have ‘connection.’
“Sometimes, after collecting a large sum of money from us, some might still not benefit from it. So instead we were made to frying yam and akara to make a living.”
A mother of three, Aisha, descried the spate of hunger in the camp: “There is no adequate supply of food. The food supply is not constant and we would sometimes skip meals for two months.
“The men inside the camp steals from us. After we have gone out to sell, the men would at night, sleek in to collect the little we have sold for that day and the officials in charge would do nothing about it.”