January 13, 2023

Insecurity: How secret Boko Haram victims’ camps operated for 9 years in Nasarawa

Boko Haram fighters


Why we’ll not return to our ancestral homes in Borno — displaced persons

By David Odama, Lafia

THE prevailing insurgency in the North has led to the emergence of displaced persons in many of the states across the region.

Some of those displaced by terrorism have not been able to return to their ancestral homes and have taken up temporary residences in available spaces in Nasarawa State.

Driven away on account of repeated attacks by Boko Haram terrorists and deprived of any means of livelihood, the stranded natives have now pitched their tents in no fewer than ten makeshift camps in Karu, a border town of Nasarawa State with the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. Of course, they have no desire to return to their ancestral homes given what they passed through before ending up in their new abode.

Although they live in squalor in the Internally Displaced Person Camps without basic amenities like water, electricity, hospitals, or schools, the stranded persons still find it more convenient and befitting to dwell in these temporary homes rather than go back to where they could be killed or recruited to fight for the terrorists. They have been living in this horrible state for more than nine years in Karu without the knowledge of local, state and federal governments.

An investigation by Arewa Voice in Nasarawa State showed that of the 10 IDP camps located in the Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, only one could boast of having a source of drinking water provided by the local government, a small and non-functional clinic to cater for the health needs of the IDPs.

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The situation is exacerbated by the fact that children of these displaced persons lack access to education in nine of the 10 camps, and this has prevented them from furthering their education and becoming useful to themselves and the society at large.

But as bad as the situation may sound, the internally displaced persons have vowed to continue to endure hardships in their various camps rather than return to their ancestral home where, they allege, their lives would be cut short by the Boko Haram still occupying their homes.

The secretary of the internally displaced persons, David Yakubu, who spoke to our correspondent at the beans market located in Karu, claimed that since they escaped from Borno State and have been living in Karu for more than nine years, no government, both federal and state, have identified with them.

According to David Yakubu, it is the only non-governmental organisation from the United States of America that has provided shelter and a primary school for children. Other provisions have come from churches during the past nine years.

”No government, either federal or state, has identified with us since we have been here in Karu. It is only the Karu Local Government that has been making efforts to reduce our burden. Though on Saturday(December 31) the Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule,  visited us for the first time in nine years and gave us many things, including money, clothes, and food, amongst other things. We are grateful to Abdullahi Sule,” Yakubu declared.

The secretary, who is the special assistant to the Karu Local Government Chairman on IDPs, commended the local government for the various interventions to make life more meaningful for the displaced persons. He appealed to various organs of government, especially the federal and state governments, to come to their assistance as life was becoming more unbearable for the displaced persons in the 10 IDP camps.

According to the IDPs’ scribe, the Karu local government and the traditional institutions in the area have been instrumental to their existence for nine years, with farmlands have been provided for them as well as the market for the sale of their products, especially beans, which are now being produced in commercial quantities. How can we return to Borno State to be killed when our lives are secure in Karu, Nasarawa State, where we are? The only appeal we have to make to both the federal and state governments is to provide us with the essential amenities such as water, schools for our children, and health care facilities, as well as security to safeguard the various camps,” David stated.

 It will be recalled that the camps have been in existence for more than ten years and are being occupied by displaced persons who escaped from the different parts of the North-East following the Boko Haram attack. Zachary Allumaga, Director General of the Nasarawa State Emergency Management Agency, has denied that the state government and NASEMA were aware of the camps’ existence for more than nine years.

 Allumaga said that Governor Abdullahi Sule would be visiting the IDP camps in Karu to interact with the displaced persons and donate relief materials to them to cushion their hardship. But why did it take so long for the camps to operate in the state without the knowledge of the government?