Bama Association petitions UN over detention of IDPs

an IDPs camp in North East Nigeria

An NGO, Bama Initiative for Human Development, has petitioned the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) over detention of its members in Maiduguri.

The association called on the UN body to intervene and facilitate the release of its members that have been remanded in prison custody.

The call was contained in a petition signed by Muhammad Shuwa and Abba-Bukar Abbamasta, and issued on Thursday in Maiduguri.

“We members of the Bama Initiative for Human Development (BHID) write to petition you on the illegal, illegitimate and unjust detention of our members who were on patriotic mission to protest for our return to our ancestral land of Bama in Borno,” the petition read.

They said that the people of Bama had taken refuge at various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and host communities in Maiduguri since the Boko Haram insurgents sacked the town on Sept. 1, 2014.

“Recall also that it is well documented that various IDPs camps lack basic amenities that would guaranteed a comfortable living condition for human beings, which led to spread of diseases and other vices around the camps.

“Despite all these filth and negative traits that pervaded the camps, our people chose to remain in these camps because they felt there was relative peace and security at the camps compared to going back to our home which has become a Boko Haram stronghold”.

The petition noted that the people of Bama were elated by the successes recorded by the military in defeating the Boko Haram insurgents and the significant progress of the ongoing reconstruction and rehabilitation projects being executed by Federal and State Governments in the town.

It added that the feat achieved by the military and government had encouraged them to initiate moves to enable them to return to their home town in order to alleviate their sufferings and resume normal life.

“Our intention was not to commit suicide or embarrass the government but to go back to our ancestral land and join efforts to rebuild it base on assurances by various top government agencies including the state government,” it said.

The petitioners expressed dismay over the arrest of its members after the IDPs complied with the security advice directing them to drop the idea of returning to Bama without notifying the government and other stakeholders.

“As a leading organisation championing the cause of refugees and victims of war like ourselves, we are praying that you use your office to intervene in addressing the illegal, illegitimate and unjust treatment of our people, who have been traumatised for more than three years.

“We are law abiding persons who have suffered so much and only want to go back to our ancestral home to rebuild the walls that were destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgents.

“We are not fighting the government or any of its agencies. Our decision to go back home is premised on assurances given us by the government, assurances which they have always reiterated to the general public”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Borno Police Command on Tuesday said it had arrested and charged to court 12 members of the Bama Initiative for Human Development and All Bama Youths Development Association on alleged conspiracy and inciting disturbances.

The suspects were arraigned in a Maiduguri Magistrate Court on charges of criminal conspiracy and inciting disturbances.

The court remanded the suspects in prison custody till next hearing.