Widows and other victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State have berated the Federal Government for taking care of the insurgents at the expense of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The IDPs stated this in a report published on the BBC Hausa Service website accessed on Thursday by one of our correspondents.
They lamented that government, which is spending huge resources on the insurgents, had not paid adequate attention to widows, orphans and other victims of Boko Haram’s attacks.
Some of the victims, who also spoke at an IDP camp in Maiduguri on Thursday, faulted the amnesty granted the insurgents and insisted that they should be prosecuted.
A few weeks ago, the Federal Government said 603 repentant Boko Haram insurgents, who had completed the de-radicalisation programme would be reintegrated into communities.
But the victims opposed the government’s plan.
The BBC reported that a widowed mother of four said her husband was killed in her presence by Boko Haram members, some of whom, she said were being taken care of by government.
The unnamed woman stated, “I have not received any assistance. I am are left with four children. The kind of life we live now is some days we eat some, other days we have nothing to eat and then you (government) say ‘Boko Haram fighters have repented,’ and you take care of them.
“What about us who have spent six years in the (IDP) camp. We are not taken care of. Only those who came from the bush, looking for amnesty are the ones being taken care of.
“Honestly, the government has not been just on this issue because I don’t get money to feed my children until I go and wash (clothes/dishes) for people.”
Another victim, who lost four brothers to Boko Haram attacks, said, “They drove us out of our homes. Are these the people we are going to live with as if nothing happened?”
A widow, Tata Hussaini, who has been living in an IDP camp in Maiduguri since 2014, when her husband was killed at Tumbum-Mata, Baga, said she had not seen her daughter who was kidnapped by the insurgents.
Hussani, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, said, “I do not know if she (her daughter) is still alive. She should be 13 years by now.
“I am sad that they (government) are releasing them (Boko Haram insurgents) despite killing my husband and many others. They have abducted my daughter and thousands of others. They have made living a pain for me and many others.”
She, however, appealed to the insurgents to release her daughter.
Another IDP in Maiduguri, Ayuba Ali, told The PUNCH that he escaped from an attack in Baga, where his wife and three children were killed.
“If they (repentant insurgents) are released to the community, I may leave the community for another place. I do not believe they can repent.”
On her part, in an interview with one of our correspondents, Meimunat Mohammed, whose husband and six-year-old son were taken away in 2014 by Boko Haram in Baga, said the insurgents must have killed them.
Another widow, Marta Ibrahim, said, “We were running when they killed my husband whom I did not even give proper burial.
“I do not support the amnesty plan and allowing them to walk free in society. They have made me to lose a lot.I do not have husband anymore. My children are without a father and I have turned to a beggar living in a camp since 2014. I feel I deserve justice and justice I demand. They should be prosecuted and not be freed.”
Besides the IDPs, a public affair commentator, Bulama Yerima and a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri, Prof Khalifa Dikwa, faulted the reintegration of the insurgents into society.
Yerima said it was wrong for security agencies to release “the so-called repentant insurgents in the name of reintegration at a time when five innocent souls were killed by Boko Haram.
“One notorious Boko Haram member reportedly came back to the Shehuri South community with some documents believed to be government clearance. It is an insult to our sense of reasoning and a clear statement that our lives don’t matter like those of Boko Haram.”
Yerima said Abdurahman Bulama, a resident of Shehuri, where the insurgent was to be reintegrated, was killed few days ago.
He stated, “Our concern is not whether they are reformed and have regretted their evil past or not . Our concern is that huge resources are being spent on them, while innocent citizens, whose means of livelihood, including animals, farmlands, and cottage industries were totally destroyed, are being abandoned.
“If reformed insurgents are to be reintegrated, it is better you do that after victims of insurgency are rehabilitated and resettled in their communities before attempting to reintegrate reformed insurgents. What the military or government is doing now is like causing double injuries on citizens and further adding salt to those injuries.”
On his part, Dikwa said government was insensitive by reintegrating the insurgents to society.
He said, “This is utterly insane and insensitive to our feelings. Such a myopic decision can never be contemplated in sane climes.”
“What is about to happen in the name of safe corridor (for Boko Haram) is a blatant show of preference for Boko Haram whose comrades are still out there maiming, killing and kidnapping people including humanitarian workers.”
“Where do we situate the memory of our slain dear ones or the yet to be resettled traumatised victims of the 11 painful years of Boko Haram terrorism in terms of thousands of lives lost, widows, orphans and shattered extended proud families?” – Punch.