By Ndahi Marama’ Maiduguri
The Nigeria Country Representative of french iNGO, ACTED, Santiano Alexandra has clarified the reason some of its staff were caught at a hotel in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital using toy guns for training and simulation.
Recalled that, governor Babagana Umara Zulum directed the immediate suspension of ACTED, an international Non-Governmental Organization (iNGO) following Saturday’s discovery that the humanitarian iNGO was using a hotel in Maiduguri for training some persons on shooting.
Zulum’s spokesman, Malam Isa Gusau, who announced the Governor’s directive, said the French iNGO was found using toy guns and simulators in training exercises at a hotel located off a circular road in Maiduguri. Even as the governor’s spokesman, Mallam Isa Gusau in a statement explained that residents near the hotel had reported to officials that they were hearing sounds of gunshots from the hotel, following which government officials reported the matter to GRA Divisional Police Headquarters which oversees the hotel’s location.
The police found three toy pistols at the hotel while two trainers, both Nigerians, were at the police station with an investigation going on.
However, in a press statement issued to newsmen on Sunday, Alexandra said, in light of the recent developments, ACTED wishes to provide clarifications to ensure full transparency and continued commitment to serving the people of Borno State.
The statement reads: “Given this fragile context and in compliance with international best practices, ACTED must exercise its duty of care for staff, and make every effort to ensure the safety and security of its staff.
“This includes regularly
organizing training and simulation exercises, such as the one held on June 26, in order for them to be prepared to cope with unexpected security incidents.
“These simulation exercises are standard procedures for many NGOs,
both in Nigeria and globally and in no way, neither during those exercises nor during the delivery of assistance, does ACTED carry weapons, in line with international standards and its dedication to uphold
principled humanitarian action.
“ACTED reiterates its commitment to maintain a high level of cooperation with the Nigerian Authorities as well as the highest levels of transparency towards the authorities and the people we serve.
“As an international non-governmental organization (NGO), ACTED is known and respected globally for its principled actions and for operating in strict compliance with local government rules and regulations in all 38 countries where we are present.
“ACTED complies with the Nigerian law and regulations, requirements of the
Borno State Government, and all other requirements of the Government of Nigeria. ACTED will strive to maintain the highest level of transparency, trust and cooperation with the Nigerian authorities at all levels and remains committed to providing critical humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Borno State.
“In 2020, ACTED supported 110,000 people in Borno with food and livelihoods assistance, and constructed more than 3,000 shelters.
“Through the distribution of Shelter and Non-Food items and provision of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services, ACTED directly supported 78,000 internally displaced persons in Borno State.
“Over the past year, while providing critical humanitarian assistance to the people in the Northeast and other
parts of Nigeria, our staff and partners have found themselves in very dangerous situations where their safety
and security was severely compromised: in May 2020, an ACTED contractor was abducted between Maiduguri -Monguno road, and tragically killed while in service; in March 2021, ACTED staff faced imminent danger during
an attack while providing humanitarian assistance in Dikwa; in April, the ACTED office and warehouse in Damasak were attacked by armed groups, and large stocks of humanitarian supplies meant for the people in need were destroyed.
“ACTED also present its compliments to the Governor of Borno, His Excellency Prof. Babagana Zulum. His
leadership and guidance to the humanitarian community and particularly to ACTED, in providing support for the successful implementation of humanitarian activities in the North-East over the past years, are highly appreciated.
“ACTED relies on the support of the Nigerian Government and all its departments at both Federal
and State levels, to facilitate the humanitarian assistance we are providing to the people in Nigeria in line with humanitarian principles and Government priorities.