By Yaro Daniel Onyiloyi,
The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), the key Nigerian NGO which has been monitoring and tracking the efforts to rehabilitate and resettle internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria has expressed horror against alleged corruption in the management of IDPs and what it called the culpable silence of governments at all levels on that. It alleged callousness in the treatment of IDPs, adding in a statement by its Executive Director, Mallam Yunusa Zakari Y’au in Bauchi that its partners in Maiduguri and in other locations had observed various ways in which food items meant for IDPs had been diverted by officials and taken to either markets for sale or misappropriated by these officials for their personal and private use. Coming on the heels of demonstrations on the streets last Thursday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, by IDPs, the statement also made reference to stories of extortion in which officials demanded for money from IDPs to register to collect relief materials as well as sexual gratification from IDPs.
“We in the north east are happy that the military has been recording successes in liberating a number of areas formerly controlled by the insurgents but we are now extremely worried and alarmed that our brothers sisters, uncles, grandparents and children are dying of starvation due do callousness of these government officials who government entrusted the welfare and wellbeing of IDPs to”, the statement added.
CITAD argued that this is not the first time that these Nigerians had to complain about the systematic starvation that they have been subjected to by people whose responsibility it is to care for them and that many people, especially children, are already dead from hunger and malnutrition, development which it said had been reported in the media. CITAD further claimed that on several occasions, both state and federal governments have been alerted to this but they have often either dismissed it or simply make some symbolic noises and let the matter to continue unabated. The lack of action from government to take concrete measures to stop this haemorrhage of resources meant for IDPs, it said, is resulting in a situation in which government is, by its own inaction, aiding the mass murder of people who have earlier on been traumatized by the Boko Haram insurgents. As such, surviving Boko Haram tend to become only a stop gap for them to be killed by hunger engineered by relied officials, the statement point out.
Situating diversion of relief materials and corruption in lack of proper instrument, institution or national policy to deal with IDPs as a result of Nigeria not having domesticated the African Convention on the Protection of IDPs, otherwise known as the Kampala Declaration, the NGO insists that the country has been relying on adhoc structures. It, therefore, sees this as the time for an immediate enactment of such instrument by the government.
It called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediately launch a serious investigation into the diversion of relief materials meant for various IDP camps across the region while also demanding both state and federal governments to take immediate steps to ensure that relief materials, especially food items, are delivered promptly to those unfortunate to have been victims of Boko Haram insurgency. It said anti-corruption war must transcend mere official declaration to the realm of openness, transparency, asking governments to demand accountability from its officials and agents. This, it pointed out, is the minimum expectation form a government that has made a promise to rid the country of corruption.