Bama, one of the local governments under Dikwa Emirate in Maiduguri, Borno, with a population of almost three hundred thousand inhabitants, was a community renowned for its commercial activities, especially as it relates to fishing and other agricultural activities.
This was however disrupted as a result of attacks by the dreaded Boko Haram sect in the Northeast. In September 2014, Boko Haram seized control of the community killing more than 100 inhabitants while others scampered for safety. The town was however recaptured by the Nigerian Army on March 16, 2015.
The displaced residents of Bama that were housed as IDPs in Maiduguri have been clamouring to return home but they have been prevented from doing so, as the government insists that the reconstruction of the area is still ongoing. As a result, it’s not yet ready for habitation.
These IDPs, that have run out of patience with government protested on Sunday, September 24, 2017, citing poor living conditions in their camp and their continuous stay in the IDP Camp with a demand to be returned back to Bama.
A deeper look at this scenario evolves three things.
One, the government is not ready to release the IDPs under the guise of reconstruction still ongoing (a narrative that has been peddled since 2015); two, the IDPs want to go by all means due to the suffering in the camp.
The third is the status of Bama itself – security wise. The Military has claimed that Bama has been regained from the terrorists and that Boko Haram has been defeated. This was further confirmed last week by the chief of Air staff who stated that all Boko Haram leaders “have been killed”.
However, there is still news going around that Boko Haram is still operating in hard-to-reach rural areas of which Bama is one. Therefore, considering this in the face of constant demand of return by the IDPs, how safe will it be for them to return home, won’t it be a suicide mission for them?
The government needs to consider the security implications of their return to Bama and therefore put their IDP camp in a livable condition to douse the tensions of constant protests andagitations by the IDPs.