Jumai Musa could not control her emotions when she got news that she must vacate her makeshift home. Eight years ago, Boko Haram terrorists sacked her village in the Kaimula area of Borno State. She would stay with her family at the Dalori II displacement camp in the state, striving for sustenance.
Last year, the Borno state government shut down the Dalori camp in an attempt to resettle the displaced population. The officials issued occupancy permits to those that could not be resettled in their ravaged homes, temporarily moving them to the 1000 Housing Unit along the Maiduguri-Bama road. Jumai and her family could not get the permits for unclear reasons. They moved into the estate anyway.
On June 30, however, government officials asked the displaced persons without occupancy permits in the estate to vacate the space, giving them just a week to move out. “Where do we go from here?” Jumai wondered, shivering and shedding tears. Returning home was not an option, she said. And safe living outside the camp was not guaranteed.
Displaced and re-displaced
Jumai and her family were not alone. At least 450 displaced households were not given the permits and have been ordered to leave the housing unit without providing an alternative shelter. This saddens the evacuees a lot. A few of the affected persons have moved out while many others, like Jumai, have no clue about their next destination.
When the government shut down the Dalori I and II displacement camps to resettle the occupants, the idea sounded great, but it wasn’t without its imperfections. The internally displaced people said they could not return to their towns and villages because they were scared of terrorist attacks. Sadly, many of them were not issued permits to live in the makeshift camp in the estate — after the government shut down their camps — causing a re-displacement and leaving them stranded.
When the Dalori II camp was shut down last year – in the name of resettling IDPs – Jumai said she was roofless for three days, passing the nights under trees with her family. “Rainfall soaked us together with our children,” she recalled. “We witnessed pregnant women giving birth under trees.”
Blurry hopes, fake promises
Maryam Ali has a similar story to tell. It’s the second time she would be re-displaced after Boko Haram sacked her village. She and many others had been accommodated in the Dalori community after the IDP camp was closed. But their stay in the community would be short-lived when the land owners needed it for personal use, forcing them to relocate to the 1000 Housing Unit spaces without the occupancy permits.
Maryam said she was heartbroken when the evacuation news reached her. Worried about the safety of her children, she sobbed amid agony and lamentation.
“If our community were a safe place, we would gladly go back without hesitation but there’s nowhere to go now,” she said.
Nine years ago, Modu Musa fled from Boko Haram’s terror in Kambari, a village in the Konduga Local Government Area of Borno. Musa said the government pledged to relocate them to their ancestral homes safely but failed.
“Now, we are suffering from lack of a place to stay and that is why we moved in to occupy empty houses since it belongs to the government,” he said, recalling how Boko Haram took over Kambari, his hometown. “We appeal to the authorities to let us stay here till after the rainy season, when we’d be done farming.”
HumAngle contacted Muazu Garba, the secretary to the local management of the IDP community at the 1000 Housing Units. He told HumAngle that the state governor, Babagana Zulum, had visited them two weeks ago and addressed IDPs without permits.
“The Governor informed us that those that don’t have the certificate of occupancy should start packing out of the houses they occupied,” the secretary said, adding that three days later, an official from the Borno State Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RRR) came to issue the quit notice.
“At least there are about 450 households without permits and so far it is about 240 houses that these people have occupied,” Muazu added, insinuating that over 800 IDPs would be re-displaced.
Awana Mali, one of the camp officials, recalled how the RRR agent came to announce the eviction plan, driving in a Highlander vehicle. “This really frightens everyone who has no place to go or stay, especially because most of their communities are not liberated from insurgents,” he said.
Dogo Shettima, the Governor’s Special Assistant on Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RRR) told HumAngle that the ministry indeed issued the quit notice.
“Actually, last year we allocated not more than 150 (households) to those housing units for further resettlement and some people who haven’t been cleared and documented have occupied the remaining houses without official allocation,” Shettima said.
“Government doesn’t know who they are and that is why the directive to evacuate the houses was issued to them. Notice will never be served to those we officially allocated last year so, those that broke in the estate without official allocation are told to leave.”
However, the victims presented the Beneficiary Token issued to them as evidence of their displacement. They told HumAngle that when they were relocated from the camp last year, the government issued each of them the token to “access any prospective assistance from the government”.
“The governor gave us the ‘Beneficiary Token’ when our camp was shut down,” said Kaltume Adamu, who had been displaced for over ten years since Boko Haram attacked her Durmari village in Konduga. “Since then, all means of getting access to humanitarian aids like foodstuff were stopped.”
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