Why IDPs can’t return home yet, by minister


Why IDPs can’t return home yet, by minister

The Nation, 12 Apr 2016

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) cannot return home yet because it is not yet safe, Interior Minister Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) said yesterday.

He said although most towns have been recaptured from insurgents in the Northeast, security threats still remained.

The government, he said, is working hard to ensure that the places devastated by the Boko Haram insurgents are made safer for people to return.

Dambazau, represented by a Director in the Ministry, Noah Auta, spoke in Lagos at a media roundtable with the theme: Developing effective police framework to address the situation of victims of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

It was organised by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), in collaboration with the Ford Foundation.

“No IDPs has been authorised to go back home. Although towns have been liberated by the military, some places still have landmines. The government is still fashioning out how to deal with security issues in these areas,” he said.

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode advocated the formulation of a more effective policy to rehabilitate victims of terrorism and IDPs.

Ambode said as the military makes steady progress in liberating territories under the Boko Haram stronghold, the task of rebuilding the communities and reintegrating the victims requires a well thought-out policy framework.

The governor, represented by a Director in the Ministry of Special Duties, Mrs Bisi Shonibare, said reintegrating victims of terror, especially children, women and the elderly, will require a systematic process to be implemented in phases.

“It is important that we evolve a well thought-out policy framework that will guide this process. This will guarantee a process that is well coordinated and goal driven.

“The objective will be to restore hope to the victims and avoid acts of commission or omission that could result in more complex crisis situations in the near future,” he said.

A former Minister of Education Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, who championed the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, said a central clearing house on information regarding the terror war should be set up to prevent duplication of efforts and to coordinate inter-governmental activities on the war, possibly in the Vice-President’s office.

Represented by Ademola Williams, Ezekwesili, a former World Bank Vice President, regretted that on the second anniversary of the Chibok School Girls kidnap, they were yet to be found.

“People must speak up and hold government accountable. Citizens must protect each other. And we need a leadership that really cares,” she said.

Activist-lawyer Femi Falana (SAN), represented by Olanrewaju Suraju, said corruption contributed to the inability to defeat Boko Haram quicker.

He said had the past administrations tackled the problem head on, without mixing it with politics and religion and allowing corruption to undermine it, the war would have long been won.

“The past government was not interest in tackling the issue but used it for political gains,” he alleged.

A former Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, who chaired the event, said ridding the country of terrorism requires every citizens’ support, adding that is not a fight to be left to government alone.