…Concerns mount over source of dumped materials

By NDAHI MARAMA, Maiduguri

WHO dumped bales of used clothing materials on Maiduguri Road? This is a question requiring an immediate answer in order to unravel the mystery surrounding  the discarded stuffs.

Already tongues are wagging as to why the materials, which are suspected to have been taken from the Nigerian Customs under the directive of the Presidency, were kept away until they deteriorated before being dropped on the roadside.

But despite the decay that has set into the dumped materials, it was good news for thousands of displaced persons and other vulnerable groups in Borno State who saw them as an opportunity to make good business and clothe themselves.

Arewa Voice could not ascertain if the dumped materials had been officially handed over by the Nigeria Customs Service to the Borno State Government for onward distribution to displaced persons as was directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

When our correspondent visited one of the waste disposal areas near the permanent site of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, hundreds of vulnerable groups, mostly women and children, including IDPs living in host communities, were seen struggling to get their own share of the dumped materials despite the heavy downpour, and not minding the health hazards related to it.

A scavenger, Aisha Yakubu, told AV that she was picking from the rotten clothing materials so as to dry-clean them and give to her tailors to mend for her to use since she has no means to buy new clothes.

Aisha said: ”I saw trucks belonging to the State Emergency Management Agency and Borno State Environmental Protection Agency offloading the materials and my mother and I rushed to the scene and started scavenging; but before we knew what was happening, dozens of multitudes joined us.

“It is good that God Almighty has answered us to have our own share from the gesture as we learned that most of the interventions by the Federal Government meant for IDPs reached the state government since last year but were not delivered to the targeted beneficiaries like us before they expired,” Aisha lamented.

It will be recalled that President Buhari had a few years ago ordered that all the goods seized by the Nigerian Customs be deployed and distributed to Internally Displaced Persons, especially to those returning to the liberated towns in parts of the North-East, especifically Borno which is the epicentre of the over decade-old Boko Haram crisis.

But the directive has often been observed in the breach due to the vested interests involved in the implementation of the directive of Mr. President.

 Arewa Voice reports that most of the seized items often get to the hands of Borno government authorities in bad state, while some officials also find it difficult to pass the free materials to the targeted beneficiaries on time.

It was based on these concerns that a committee headed by Sanusi Usman was constituted to ensure that the materials were well distributed to places where they were most needed, particularly to the villages and communities sacked by terrorists as a means of encouraging their natives to return home.

The Chairman of Ado Local Government Area, Chief James Oche, confirmed that he had apprehended some youths in his domain who took to vandalising rail tracks laid between Otukpo and Ado LGA and described the level of destruction as heartbreaking and unimaginable.

The Chairman said: “We received intelligence about the syndicate and in collaboration with relevant security agencies, we painstakingly uncovered them and their operational base. They engage in vandalisation and sale of public installations like the railway tracks, clips, electrical installations, cross bars, wires and poles belonging to the railways which they sell for as much as N4 million per truckload.

“We arrested five of their kingpins and their accomplices and they are currently helping the police in their investigation, while those at large are being pursued for possible arrests.”

The Chairman said he also ordered the closure of the hotel in the area which was identified as the operational base of the syndicate while investigation into the matter was ongoing.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Catherine Anene, disclosed that the Police had been making progress with the arrest of members of the syndicate who were mostly stealing rail facilities, mostly from isolated communities at night.

“We are intensifying our investigations and also carrying out arrests; and all the suspects we caught have been charged to court,” Anene, a Superintendent of police, said.

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