By Rita Michael, Bauchi
A non-governmental organisation, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate diversion of relief materials meant for Infernally Displaced camps in the Northeast.
The CITAD Executive Director, Ya’u Zakari Ya’u, made the appeal in a statement made available to newsmen in Bauchi yesterday.
He said that both the states in the Northeast and the Federal governments must ensure that relief materials especially food items are promptly delivered to the displaced persons.
Ya’u said, “We like to reiterate that corruption cannot be corruption by mere official declaration. It can only be fought when government embraces openness, transparency and demand accountability from its officials and agents.”
The CITAD director explained that it was only when government embraces openness, transparency and accountability that Nigerians could view the promise it made of ridding the country of endemic corruption.
He wondered why the Federal government lacks proper instrument or institution to deal with issues of IDPs which he attributed to failure of the government to domesticate the African Convention on the Protection of IDPs, otherwise known as the Kampala Declaration.
According to him, “Without such, government has been relying on adhoc structure and diversion of relief materials and corruption is the results. This therefore is the time that government must put in place a proper IDPs policy”.
He recalled that on several occasions both the states and federal governments have been alerted on the issue of relief material diversion, but they often either dismissed or make noises and let the matter to continue unabated.
According to Ya’u, “This is not the way a government elected on the basis of its promise to stem out corruption in the country should respond to the unscrupulous acts of corruption.
“The lack of action from the government to take concrete measures to stop this hemorrhage of resources meant for the IDPs is resulting in a situation in which the government by its own inaction is aiding the mass murder of people who have earlier on been traumatized by Boko Haram insurgents, and have seen their loved ones killed.”
Ya’u said that it would appear to the IDPs that surviving Boko Haram is the only stop gap for them to be killed by hunger engineered by relied officials, describing the action as a major crime against humanity.
He further explained that CITAD is horrified by the callous way IDPs are being treated and the culpable silence of governments at all levels, saying various ways in which food item meant for the displaced persons have been diverted by officials and taken to markets for sale or misappropriated by those officials for their personal use.
“There are also many stories of extortion in which officials demand for money from the IDPs to register to collect relief materials, as well as other abuses such as demanding for sexual gratification from the IDPs”, he said.
As a result of these negative tendencies, he said, many people especially children have died of hunger and malnutrition, as has been reported by the media.
He recalled that the August 25, 2016 demonstration by thousands of impoverished internally displaced persons on the streets of Maiduguri that they have not been fed for days is an attestation of the systematic starvation the IDPs have been subjected to by the people who have been saddled with the responsibility to care for them.
He expressed delight that people in the Northeast are happy that the military has been recording successes in liberating a number of areas hitherto controlled by the insurgents, but are worried that their brothers, sisters, uncles, grandparents and children are dying of starvation due to callousness of officials who government entrusted the welfare and well-being of the IDPs.