Extreme hunger forces Maiduguri IDPs to riot

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…NEMA: Protest due to Outsiders wanting to share in ICRC largess***

…As Academic Staff Union, Kano Varsity threatens fresh strike after nationwide strike***

In spite of the orchestrated stories of unimaginable quantum of Customs impounded rice being constantly deposited at the Internally Displaced Peoples Camp (IDPs), some aggrieved IDPs took to the streets on Tuesday in Maiduguri in a demonstration to protest alleged lack of food and poor shelter at the camp.

The displaced persons in their hundreds took to the streets, blocked the Maiduguri-Kano Road, and destroyed bill boards and campaign posters of political parties candidates mounted by the road.

Traffic was similarly disrupted, even as shops and offices hurriedly closed, many commercial motor cycle operators in a show of solidarity participated, hooting horns in front.

It took the intervention of the police, military and other security operatives to disperse the protesting IDPs.

The protesters who were taking refuge at the camp since January, sequel to the displacement of households from their homes due to Boko Haram insurgents’ attack in Baga and adjourning communities in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno, said they were protesting over a general neglect, lack of food and shelter in the camp since their arrival about 40 days ago.

But in a swift reaction, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) dismissed the report as misleading, alleging that no Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) staged a demonstration to protest lack of food at the Teachers’ Village IDPs camp in Maiduguri.

In a statement, Mr Sani Datti, the Head of Media and Public Relations of the agency, said that the protest was not triggered by lack of food and starvation in the camp, but rather due to the suspension of registration of the displaced persons by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Datti said:  “for record and purpose of clarity, though there was protest by some IDPs living in Teachers Village Camp, Maiduguri, it was never caused by hunger or lack of food supplies.

“The protest was actually caused by interruption of profiling exercise of the IDPs by International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), who were at the camp to extend their humanitarian support to complement the effort of partners.

“Consequently, some people outside made attempt to be enumerated and this prompted some IDPs in the camp to chase them away and it resulted in commotion and riot.

“However, the situation has been immediately brought under control by the security operatives stationed at the camp and normalcy restored,” Datti said.

Datti said that the agency had continued to provide food items monthly to the IDPs in camps, host communities and liberated areas in Borno and Adamawa States.

If Datti’s explanation was anything to go by, it could also imply that some of those outside the IDPs could be so worse off that they willingly sauntered into the camp, to share in the humanitarian items brought by the ICRC.

According to him, the agency had conducted the monthly food distribution exercise at the camp on January 15, 2019, for the households, adding that the food ration was expected to sustain the households for one month.

Meanwhile, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Kano State University of Science and Technology (KUST) Wudil branch, has threatened to embark on a fresh strike immediately after the nationwide strike, if the state government failed to meet its demands.

The ASUU KUST branch chairman, Mahadi Lawal-Yakubu issued the threat on Tuesday when he led members of the union on a courtesy visit to the Speaker, Kano State House of Assembly, Alhaji Kabiru Rurum.

Lawal-Yakubu told newsmen shortly after the visit that they were at the House to intimate the Speaker about their problems as well as other issues affecting the union.

According to him, the union found it necessary to discuss the challenges with the Speaker, with the hope that he would intervene in the issue to avert possible strike by the Union.

He explained that the state government had approved for the payment of some allowances, but up to this moment not a single Kobo was paid.

“The reason behind the nationwide strike by the Union is also common in our University. We have the same challenges which we have to struggle to make sure is resolved or we go on the strike”, he indicated, adding:

“As soon as the nationwide strike ends, we are going to give the state government a period of grace to look into the issue or we go on strike.

“Strike is not our desire, but it has become our last option in our struggle to ensure the betterment of the university, and also to make sure that our children get a quality education.

He stressed the need for the state government to look into the issue to avoid a fresh strike because “we were in first semester when the nationwide strike started.

The chairman appealed to the state House of Assembly to give the education sector priority in the budgetary allocation in the next budget.

In his remark, the Speaker assured the Union that the Assembly would look into the issues with a view to meeting the governor to resolve it.

He called on the union to exercise patience as the assembly would do its best to ensure amicable resolution of the problem.