Press Statement August 26, 2016
Yesterday, Thursday 25th August, thousands of impoverished Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) demonstrated in the streets of Maiduguri, protesting that for days they were not being fed. This was not the first time that these unfortunate Nigerians have to complain about the systematic starvation that they have been subjected to by people who have responsibility to care for them. As a result of this, many people, especially children have died of hunger and malnutrition. This has been widely reported in the papers.
The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) which has been monitoring and tracking the efforts to rehabilitate and resettle IDPs is horrified by the callous way IDPs are treated and the culpable silence of governments at all levels. Our partners in Maiduguri and in other locations have observed various ways in which food items meant for IDPs have been diverted by officials and taken to either markets for sale or misappropriated by these officials for their personal and private use. There are also many stories of extortion in which officials demand for money from IDPs to register to collect relief materials as well as other abuses such as demanding for 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.
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. We feel that this is not the way a government elected on the basis of its promise to stem out corruption in our country should respond to these unscrupulous acts of corruption. The lack of action from government to take concrete measures to stop this hemorrhage of resources meant for IDPs is resulting in a situation in which government by its own inaction is aiding the mass murder of people who have earlier on been traumatized by the Boko Haram insurgents and have seen their loved ones killed. It would appear them, that surviving Boko Haram, is only a stop gap for them to be killed by hunger engineered by relied officials. This is a major crime against humanity.
Part of the problem is that our government has yet to wake up to the fact that it has no proper instrument or institution to deal with IDPs. We have no national Policy on IDPs. We have failed as a nation to domesticate the African Convention on the Protection of IDPs, otherwise known as the Kampala Declaration. Without such, government has been relying on adhoc structure and diversion of relief materials and corruption are the results. This therefore is the time that government must put in place a proper IDP Policy. We make for the call for an immediate enactment of such instrument.
We at CITAD also call 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. In the meant time we that demand that both state and federal governments must take immediate steps to ensure that relief materials, especially food items are delivered promptly to these needy and unfortunate Nigerians whose only crime if it, is to have been victim of Boko Haram insurgents.
We like to reiterate a point we have make in several times that corruption cannot be corruption by mere official declaration, it can only be fought when government embrace openness, transparency and demand accountability from its officials and agents: that is the minimum we expect form a government that has made a promise to rid the country of corruption.