NIGERIA. The Borno State Police Command have arested many IDPs in connection with the yesterday botched protest to return back to their ancestral home after more than three years of exile from Boko Haram crisis.
Reports that some displaced people from Bama in the early hours of Sunday staged a protest at the welcome to Maiduguri, Bama/Maiduguri high way close to unversity of Maiduguri gate II to push foward their resolve to return to Bama where they have been displaced by the Boko Haram crisis for more than three years.
The protest which was coordinated by Bama Initiative for Human Development, led by their their Chairman, Alhaji muhammad Hassan, said they are not satisfied with the snail process of returning them home hence the need for them to embark on the journey to go back “even if it means by trekking to Bama” .
“We are in Maiduguri for more than three years without meaningful means of livelihoods. The condition of our people is pathetic. The elongation in the process of returning displaced persons to their homes is moving at a snail pace and exposed them to unbearable conditions. “We could no longer send our children to school; many have died of hunger and starvation. Most of us live in host communities and no one is supporting us,” Hassan stated.
Mr Damian Chukwu, the Police Commissioner in the state, said that the group had not notified the command over their planned return to Bama. He advised the IDPs to dialogue with the state government and other stakeholders over their demand so that adequate preparations would be made. “The police have a duty to protect you and we will not allow you to gather people and expose them to danger in the name of home return.
Our correspondent gathered that despite the effort of the police Commissioner and his advice to the protesters, some of them refused to listen to the plea and rather turned riotous giving the police no option but to arrest them.
A police source confirm to our correspondent in Maiduguri that a good number of the protesters including the leadership are in police custody and they would be prosecuted. “I cannot believe that despite the subtle approach and caution by the CP to these people, some of them went riotous and we were left with no choice but to arrest them. It is the duty of the police to protect lives and property at the same time maintain law and order,” the source informed.
In the spirit of reconciliation, Borno State Government called on the protesting IDPs to be patient and give his government more time to actualize their return. Gov. Kashim Shettima who spoke through his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy said government is nothe in any way holding back the return of IDPs as they are rather economic burden to the state.
“It is to the government’s advantage if IDPs return home because their return will lessen economic burden of supporting them as displaced persons.
“The greatest wish of the governor is the safe and dignified return of all IDPs to their communities. Much as he wants the IDPs to return, he is also concerned about their safety.
“We have to ensure that there is full return of civil security before IDPs can return. “The governor encourages safe and dignified return only after putting the right things in place,” Gusau said.
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