Saidu from Kwadi village admitted that the reign of bandits in their villages was most unfortunate but stressed that residing in the camps was demeaning.
Mohammed Nasir, Gusau
The duo of Malam Kabiru Garba of Birane village and Aliyu Ladan of Kalage village, all in Zurmi Local Government Area, Zamfara State are no blood relations. However, their paths have been joined by a common fate.
Like thousands of victims, they were displaced from their homes in the wake of the attacks by Boko Haram insurgents and other bandits. With no place to go for shelter, they sought refuge in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp where they have to depend on the state government for food and other essentials.
In times past, the thought of going home was almost nonexistent. The fear of the bandits was the beginning of wisdom. They would rather cope with the meager opportunities of the camps than return homes. But the atmosphere is changing and there is good news of the displacement of the bandits by the military. With this development, many among them are already thinking of going back home.
Malam Saidu from Kwadi village admitted that the reign of these bandits in their villages was most unfortunate but stressed that residing in the camps, despite the gradual return of peace to their villages, was demeaning.
“I and my family members are tired of staying in this camp because it is not our home. Though we are well fed, but life is not all about food alone. As a farmer, I am not used to staying in one place without doing anything.”
A widow, Malama Aisha, from Tungar Fulani village, said despite her husband’s death, she preferred to be in her village than in the camp. She maintained that the IDP camp, where she resides, was not comparable to her late husband’s house, insisting that she was already tired of the camp.
She recalled prior to the attack, which made her flee to the present abode, she was used to cooking whatever she felt like eating depending on the type of foodstuff in the house. But added that at the camp, she was fed with food, which sometimes was not the kind she wanted to eat at that particular time: “Walahi, I want to go back to our village because that is where I know better. My staying here is depressing me the more.”
Most of the victims went through hard time to escape to the camps. Some lost their ways, others lost property, some trekked long distances while some of the women gave birth on their journey to safety. Despite the sad memories of their escape, the sweet lure of home appears to have overtaken their thoughts and anything, short of going home, appears to infuriate them. Majority of them told Daily Sun that they did not see the need to continue to depend on government and others for their livelihood.
Deputy Governor Ibrahim Wakkala Muhammad and the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Alhaji Sanusi Garba Rikiji, who doubles as the Chairman, Zamfara State Government Relief and Damage Assessment Committee, had a feel of the lodgers’ desire to return home. They were in the camps to find out how the displaced persons were faring but were shocked at their resolve to return their various villages and communities.
In the light of their demand, Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari Abubakar ordered the immediate evacuation of the IDPs to their homes. He spoke at a security meeting, which took place in his private residence in Talata Mafara town, with heads of security agencies involved in the fight against bandits and other forms of criminality and traditional rulers in attendance.
He ordered security agencies to ensure that the remaining people who are still in the camps be released to go to their homes within one week given that peace has returned to the affected areas. He said though government was not tired of taking adequate care of them but it is better and more respectful for them to be at their homes and not in camps.
He promised that when those in the camps are returned to their villages, they will not be left at the mercy of the bandits, adding that the security agencies have been mandated to remain in all the affected communities until total peace and security is restored. He said the government was committed to ensuring that peace reigns in all the nooks and crannies of the state.
“No matter what kind of good treatment we give to the people in the camp, it is not measurable to the little they give themselves in their homes. So they prefer their homes than the camps, therefore, they need to be taken to their villages and given adequate security.”
Before the governor’s order, over 5000 out of the about 22000 IDPs in Maradun, Shinkafi, Tsafe and Zurmi local government areas have returned to their villages following the return of normalcy in the areas. Most of those in the IDPs camps are farmers but due to the constant attacks by bandits, fled their homes for camps for fear of being killed or abducted.