Supporting displaced victims in Northern Nigeria

Michael Dibie

Due to banditry and other related insecurity issues in Northern Nigeria, some communities in Kaduna, North Central Nigeria have been displaced for the past two years without any meaningful plan or hope of resettlement. Significant interventions from relevant authorities are slow and in some other places, thy are just not in place leading to some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) loitering and begging for survival as their only means of livelihood has been take away from them.

An example is anIDP camp at Maraba Rido, Kaduna which host about 5000 people from various communities that have experienced kidnapping and killings of their loved ones. Each resident of Maraba Rido camp either has a relation who have been kidnapped and unable to pay the required ransome or has a loved one killed as a result of an attack on their community leading to displacement.

To provide succor and shelter for some of these displaced people, Save Life Community Development Association was established in 2020 in Kaduna, North-central Nigeria as a life support platform for people who are homeless and seeking a temporary place, they can call home.

The founder of Safe Life, Suileman Adamu explained that he was a student in the higher institution in 2011 when he started nurturing the dream of saving displaced people in his community. Adamu said he joined a civil society group in 2016 with the vision of helping the needy in his region and later realized he has a strong passion for helping people in need.

“Before they got to this place, they have been kidnapped severally and have sold their farm produce to pay for ransome for their loved ones and that has left them without anything. In my own village called Rimi Kaso, women were raped in the presence of their parents and in the presence of their children. And that happened three times and because of that, they had to relocate to this nearby community,” Adamu said.

On March 7, some students were abducted by armed bandits on motorcycles who stormed the LEA Primary and Secondary School in Kuriga village, in Kaduna’s Chikun district, state police said.

At least 137 school children were kidnapped by the armed gunmen earlier last month and later released after 17 days in captivity.Their release came a day after another group of 17 pupils abducted on 9 March from a school in Sokoto State were released.

According to the Kaduna State Emergency Agency, about 290 ,000 residents across 551 communities have been displaced by bandits across 12 LGAs in Kaduna, North Central Nigeria. Many of these people have been forced to relocate from their homes mostly children due to kidnapping.

Executive secretary of the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (KADSEMA), announced the figures during the flag-off of the distribution of palliatives.

The Kaduna State Government, in collaboration with the military security outfit, Operation Save Heaven (OPSH), late last year said it has concluded arrangements to resettle Southern Kaduna communities displaced by bandits to their ancestral homes.

Governor Uba Sani said the state government was ready to provide all logistics necessary to resettle the displaced communities to their ancestral homes, adding that the government would assist the displaced victims to rebuild their destroyed homes where the need arises.

However, Adamu who is also the Coordinator, IDP camp, Maraba Rido, Kaduna said the camp currently has more than 4000 displaced people residing at Maraba Rido camp from 25 villages. According to him, the people are suffering because they lack food, as the only source of livelihood they have is farming and that has been taken away from them.

“They have not gotten any tangible help from the government, though some individuals and NGOs have been supporting but not enough.”

Safe Life which started with just three members 2020, has grown to about 20 members with support coming from various individual member and sometimes from NGOs that offer support.

Adamu reiterated that many of the young people in the camp cannot go to school because their parents have no money. He calls on the government and other Individuals to help some of these IDPs especially the children so they can afford to continue with school.

‘Though public schools are free but they need to buy books for these children but if the parents don’t have what to eat how will they get money to buy books for the children. So many children are crying, because their parents are not empowered and have nothing to take care of their family” Adamu said.

Sandra is a 14-year-old girl from Agomba Ogundu, Chikun, Kaduna, said her mother was kidnapped and she has been staying at the IDP camp at Maraba Rido, Kaduna for three years with her father. The young girl had to stop school because the father can’t afford to send her back to school.

She said they left their home three years ago and are unable to go back because of the threat from the bandits, She and her father and some others were taken into the camp by Safe Life. She said her father had lost his means of livelihood and unable to take care of the family any more. Sandra who was unable to continue with school like some of her other mates because the father can’t afford the fee was able to resume school again this term after a while because someone offered to help to pay her school fees through the activities of Safe Life.

“I left my home because the kidnappers pursued us and we came here to the camp. It’s only this term that I resumed school because a man came to help through the effort of the Association. There is no money, the money that we were supposed to use for school fees is what we are using to pay to Kidnappers as tax,” she said.

Regarding the rights of  youths to education, a Security Expert, Dr Jonathan Onoja Isaac, urged government totake advantage of their  numerous skills to avoid children between 15-18 getting involved in internet fraud.

“When we talk on insecurity like I have highlighted, we talk illiteracy, youth unemployment and poverty and again corruption both systematic and administrative corruption both in the political and security sector, there is a need for us to reposition the political architecture to bring in people with credibility”

Another victim, Ladi Joshua, said the hardship faced by the community as a result of insecurity is  intolerable. “Since we came to this camp, thanks to the Community Association, we have no houses. They gave us a primary school to stay and after a while they asked us to leave the primary school and get houses (rent) to stay.”

Some of the victims revealed that the government was yet to fulfill its promises to the community, explaining that “the food we get here and everyother things are from private bodies who came to show solidarity.”

Kidnappings by criminal gangs and terror groups demanding ransom payments have become an almost daily occurrence in Nigeria, especially in the north, with authorities seemingly powerless to stop the scourge.

Africa Change Stories platform is established to tell African stories which are empowering and are at variant to stereotypical views of wars, famine, diseases. At African Change Stories, we believe narrative and angle matters. So we responsibly tell stories ethically. The platform therefore pushes forward great and energizing stories which will propel its people to consciously strive to do more. You have a story?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top