ACTED, an international non-governmental organisation (iNGO), has defended its training exercise on weapon handling deemed a security risk by authorities in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria, following the suspension of its activities in the state.
HumAngle reported that Babagana Zulum, Governor of Borno State had ordered that the iNGO be barred temporarily from any humanitarian activity pending a police investigation into the incident. Zulum also sealed off the hotel where the training was held.
Responding to the suspension order, ACTED said it organised the training for its staff usually deployed to high-risk areas to prepare them to cope with unexpected security incidents in the line of duty in the state – the nerve centre of a decade-long Boko Haram insurgency.
According to a statement by the organisation on Sunday, June 27, 2021, some of its staff have found themselves in “very dangerous situations where their safety and security were severely compromised.”
“In May 2020, an ACTED contractor was abducted between Maiduguri, Monguno road, and tragically killed while in service; in March 2021, ACTED staff faced imminent danger during an attack while providing humanitarian assistance in Dikwa; in April, the ACTED office and warehouse in Damasak were attacked by armed groups, and large stocks of humanitarian supplies meant for the people in need were destroyed,” the statement read in parts.
The organisation said the training and simulation exercise were part of efforts to ensure the safety and security of its staff in compliance with international best practices.
“These simulation exercises are standard procedures for many NGOs, both in Nigeria and globally and in no way, neither during those exercises nor during the delivery of assistance, does ACTED carry weapons, in line with international standards and its dedication to uphold principled humanitarian action,” it said.
The organisation said that it, however, remains committed to cooperating with the Nigerian authorities as well as ensuring “the highest levels of transparency towards the authorities and the people we serve.”
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