Widows, IDPs knock FG over amnesty for Boko Haram fighters
Widows and other victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State have berated the Federal Government for taking care of the insurgents at the expense of the internally displaced persons.
The IDPs stated this in a report published on the BBC Hausa Service website accessed on Thursday by one of our correspondents.
They lamented that government, which is spending huge resources on the insurgents, had not paid adequate attention to widows, orphans and other victims of Boko Haram’s attacks.
Some of the victims, who also spoke to The PUNCH at an IDP camp in Maiduguri on Thursday, faulted the amnesty granted the insurgents and insisted that they should be prosecuted.
A few weeks ago, the Federal Government said 603 repentant Boko Haram insurgents, who had completed the de-radicalisation programme would be reintegrated into communities.
I haven’t received assistance from govt – A widowed mother of four
But the victims opposed the government’s plan.
The BBC reported that a widowed mother of four said her husband was killed in her presence by Boko Haram members, some of whom, she said were being taken care of by government.
The unnamed woman stated, “I have not received any assistance. I am are left with four children. The kind of life we live now is some days we eat some, other days we have nothing to eat and then you (government) say ‘Boko Haram fighters have repented,’ and you take care of them.
“What about us who have spent six years in the (IDP) camp. We are not taken care of. Only those who came from the bush, looking for amnesty are the ones being taken care of.
I wash clothes for people to feed my children – Widow
“Honestly, the government has not been just on this issue because I don’t get money to feed my children until I go and wash (clothes/dishes) for people.”
Another victim, who lost four brothers to Boko Haram attacks, said, “They drove us out of our homes. Are these the people we are going to live with as if nothing happened?”
I am sad govt is releasing insurgents who killed my husband, abducted my daughter – Widow
A widow, Tata Hussaini, who has been living in an IDP camp in Maiduguri since 2014, when her husband was killed at Tumbum-Mata, Baga, said she had not seen her daughter who was kidnapped by the insurgents.
Hussani, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, said, “I do not know if she (her daughter) is still alive. She should be 13 years by now.
“I am sad that they (government) are releasing them (Boko Haram insurgents) despite killing my husband and many others. They have abducted my daughter and thousands of others. They have made living a pain for me and many others.”
She, however, appealed to the insurgents to release her daughter.
Another IDP in Maiduguri, Ayuba Ali, told The PUNCH that he escaped from an attack in Baga, where his wife and three children were killed.
“If they (repentant insurgents) are released to the community, I may leave the community for another place. I do not believe they can repent.”
On her part, in an interview with one of our correspondents, Meimunat Mohammed, whose husband and six-year-old son were taken away in 2014 by Boko Haram in Baga, said the insurgents must have killed them.
Another widow, Marta Ibrahim, said, “We were running when they killed my husband whom I did not even give proper burial.
“I do not support the amnesty plan and allowing them to walk free in society. They have made me to lose a lot.I do not have husband anymore. My children are without a father and I have turned to a beggar living in a camp since 2014. I feel I deserve justice and justice I demand. They should be prosecuted and not be freed.”
Besides the IDPs, a public affair commentator, Bulama Yerima and a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri, Prof Khalifa Dikwa, faulted the reintegration of the insurgents into society.
Yerima said it was wrong for security agencies to release “the so-called repentant insurgents in the name of reintegration at a time when five innocent souls were killed by Boko Haram.
“One notorious Boko Haram member reportedly came back to the Shehuri South community with some documents believed to be government clearance. It is an insult to our sense of reasoning and a clear statement that our lives don’t matter like those of Boko Haram.”
Yerima said Abdurahman Bulama, a resident of Shehuri, where the insurgent was to be reintegrated, was killed few days ago.
Govt’s treatment for insurgents is like adding salt to injury
He stated, “Our concern is not whether they are reformed and have regretted their evil past or not . Our concern is that huge resources are being spent on them, while innocent citizens, whose means of livelihood, including animals, farmlands, and cottage industries were totally destroyed, are being abandoned.
“If reformed insurgents are to be reintegrated, it is better you do that after victims of insurgency are rehabilitated and resettled in their communities before attempting to reintegrate reformed insurgents. What the military or government is doing now is like causing double injuries on citizens and further adding salt to those injuries.”
On his part, Dikwa said government was insensitive by reintegrating the insurgents to society
He said, “This is utterly insane and insensitive to our feelings. Such a myopic decision can never be contemplated in sane climes.”
“What is about to happen in the name of safe corridor (for Boko Haram) is a blatant show of preference for Boko Haram whose comrades are still out there maiming, killing and kidnapping people including humanitarian workers.”
“Where do we situate the memory of our slain dear ones or the yet to be resettled traumatised victims of the 11 painful years of Boko Haram terrorism in terms of thousands of lives lost, widows, orphans and shattered extended proud families?”
B’Haram attacks: Zulum blames military command structures
Meanwhile, the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has absolved the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, of blame over continued attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents in the state.
Zulum, whose convoy was attacked on Wednesday, returned to Baga on Thursday, where he asked soldiers what led to the attack.
He said, “The troops have been in Mile 4 for over one year. There is complete sabotage. The problem is not with President Buhari, or General Burutai but the command and control structures. There is the need to look into command structure.”
I will recruit hunters to secure Baga if soldiers fail – Zulum
Zulum also said if the military was unable to secure Baga, he would engage hunters to keep the town safe.
He stated, “We have over 1,181 soldiers in Baga; 72 officers, 107 solders, 400 soldiers in Mile 4 and 1,900 soldiers in Monguno. I see no reason why Boko Haram will still operate in Baga town.
“We have over 80,000 IDPs in Mongun. They cannot continue to depend on NGOs and others for food. We have created an opportunity for them to go back to their communities and continue with their business and farming activities.
“After Sallah, we will go back to Kukawa. We will give time to the military; but if they will not clear Baga, we will mobilise our hunters and vigilantes to recapture Baga… we can’t continue like this. People have to take their destiny in their hands.”
Attack on Zulum, an isolated incident – Army
But the Nigerian Army on Thursday described the attack on Zulum’s convoy as “an isolated incident.”
It stated this in a statement titled, ‘Report of the attack on the convoy of Borno state Governor,’ signed by the acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, in Abuja on Thursday.
The Army said the incident occurred shortly after the governor and his entourage departed the Army Super Camp in Baga, to visit other parts of the town, noting that the attack forced Zulum to abort his planned trip to Baga.
It stated, “Regrettably, this is an isolated and most unfortunate incident that occurred in a territory where normalcy has since been restored with socio-economic activities picking up.”
Soldiers told Zulum Baga was safe – Gov spokesman
In a related development, the Special Adviser on Media to the governor, Isa Gusau said that the governor almost lost his life based on the information provided by soldiers that they had liberated Baga.
He stated, “I was not there physically. The governor was heading to Baga from Munguno because the soldiers told him they had liberated Baga from the control of Boko Haram.”
Gusau while speaking in an interview on the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation monitor in Kaduna on Thursday, said the governor was in good condition.
Policeman, govt officials, crawled to escape death – Zulum’s spokesman.
He, however, added that a policeman and government officials sustained injuries while scampering to safety for their dear lives.
“They crawled for a distance on their knees. They sustained injuries. The Boko Haram insurgents were shooting,” Gusau ad
The Secretary-General of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Dr Abubakar Khalid-Aliyu, said there was nothing wrong with the Federal Government’s amnesty programme for the repentant Boko Haram insurgent if properly executed.
Khalid-Aliyu also suggested a “true healing” programme for the victims of the insurgents at the various IDPs.
“One thing that I would like to say is that the internally displaced persons too need to have a funded programme by the Federal Government. What they need is true healing which I think is not done properly. If they witness true healings, they will be able to see reason(s).
“There are two ways or dimensions to the problem. Government must find a way of tackling insurgency. In the world over, insurgency is not fought through only war. There other windows through which insurgency is won – confronting insurgents who opt for repentance(but a sincere one).”
A government official, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the community resistance to the de-radicalisation of Boko Haram members was understandable.
He said the people were still traumatised because they still remembered the gruesome killings of their loved ones.
He said, “The solution is a two-legged approach. One is the rehabilitation programme and the second one is to ensure community acceptance.The programme enjoys the support of foreign donors.
“The idea is to involve community and traditional leaders to reduce resistance. I am sure this will soon be achieved.”