SPECIAL REPORT: How Insurgency Pushed over 3000 Borno Indigenes into IDP Camp in Edo
By Kabir Abdulsalam
“August 8, 2012 was dark day in our lives, a day that has remained memorable for bad reasons. Gunshots and bombs were the familiar sounds in the town. And it sounded like regular music because people were already used to the chaos.
“Our school, Gwoza Secondary School, was close to Zenith bank where Boko Haram fighters came to attack. They kidnapped the manager and carted away a huge amount of money.
“Many lost their lives including five of our schoolmates. The next day was the news about the attack in the village. That was the attack that claimed the lives of my father and grandfather. Houses were burnt and several religious places were affected.”
The above was the account of David Joseph who recounted how he lost his family to Boko Haram in the year 2012.
“After one month, they came back again. We ran to the bush and stayed for five days. We relied on raw crops for feeding,” he added.
When Joseph and his family were dislodged from their home in Kahum, consistently for two months, they were left with no other choice than to relocate to the neighboring community about 100 kilometers away.
David who is currently a 300 Level student at the Edo State University said the community was also attacked thrice before they moved to Adamawa for safety.
As that community was another terrible experience for him as he lost his mum who drank poisoned well water alongside 12 other women.
He said: “The insurgents came back at night at about midnight shooting sporadically to announce their presence in the town.
“We ran to the bush, while they continued to chase us, killing and slaughtering any human being on their way. That is where when we saw massive dead bodies flowing all around the town the next day.
“We narrowly escaped the attack and found a way to Yola.
The terrorist group had changed tactics, at that time by holding the territory rather than launching a hit-and-run attacks. We all (family members and friends) ran in another direction.
“In November, precisely 2 weeks later when he got Michika, in Yola, a business town sharing border with Cameroun, there were still attacks during that period, and the only thing I had left was the cloth I wore.
I continued schooling with the help of a teacher from Michika, Mr. Laraba Saidu, who counselled me on the importance of education,” he said.
David became traumatised after watching his two friends in the school get brutally killed. Life seemed meaningless for him before he located the camp.
He said: “Three months later, another attack happened on the school and the trend became worrisome. I saw how my friend was beheaded and excreted his brain from the skull while the second was fired mercilessly.
Another victim whose sister was captured alongside Chibok Girls narrated her ordeal on how she lost her sister in the hand of the insurgents.
“It took me months before I could stay in a school environment due to the trauma I went through after my sister was kidnapped.
“My sister, Saadatu Lima, came for the weekend from Chibok school. She was the fourth girl child with my father, Rebecca” Bitrus stated.
She revealed to PRNigeria how her sister was abducted among the 276 female students on 14–15 April 2014, by the terrorist group from the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State.
“Our house is closer to the school. Suddenly, we had heavy gunshots coming from the school premises. We ran for our dear life. As we are moving away from home in an untended direction, we saw a high number running away from the school direction.
“Mr. Gabriel, our neighbor asked my mother to keep us (girls) indoors for safety.
“In a few moments, we saw flames of fire coming in our direction we have to vacate the house and hide in the bush till the next day. Houses were burnt and several lives were lost.
“In the wee hours of the second day, my parents rushed to the school to make sure our sister was fine. On getting there, we were told our sister was among the abducted girls.
“Till now, we don’t have any information about her whereabouts despite the fact that a lot of the abducted girls have been released,” she lamented.
The Camp has helped me Position my Destiny to Studying Law – IDP
Nathan Ibrahim was among the few, lucky displaced persons in Nigeria because he has been reintegrated into school, with the aid of the camp officials after he and his family were displaced from Kahum.
Nathan said, “before I was privileged to be in the camp, I roamed around for months, making a living on my own, engaged in different petty jobs to survive.
“My family ran to Cameroun while I remained in Nigeria. We all lost contact,” he said.
He had earlier lost his father some years back before the attack.
The thought of possibly locating his family members became psychological torture and it took him two years to reconnect to the educational system.
Nathan is now a 500L student of Law at Edo State University and this makes so proud and excited.
“I feel very happy because before now, I did not have the hope of going to school. This is a new hope that I have found.
“I never imagined that I would proceed to university,” he said.
I want to render Probono Service after my Call-to-Bar – Victim
Rifkatu Ali was excited while fielding questions from PRNigeria. She was s 25-year-old lady who we spotted studying in a corner under a tree. She disclosed how the attacks started in her community in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State.
“They attacked us, burnt many houses, including our house. We could not even take out anything from it – clothes or anything.
“We had to settle for the mountains after several attacks then we moved to Adamawa State. They still attacked us there and during that period, the only thing I had left was the cloth on my body.
“I was separated from my family as we all ran in different directions,” she lamented.
Ali just like other victims is studying law at Edo State University, Iyamho. She told PRNigeria that the course will give her the opportunity to provide free services to the vulnerable and fight against child molestation.
My Harrowing Encounter with Boko Haram – Victim
Recounting how the once serene life he knew was taken away and exchanged with uncertainty,
explained his encounter with the terrorists and how he lost his father to them.
He said: “I came from a family of nine children. My father and two relatives were slaughtered like a cow in my presence.
“After my father was brutally killed, my mum fled to another location leaving all the children in separate directions. I was in the cave for months before someone assisted me to stay with him in Abuja for two months before I was informed about the Camp.
“I was given a new lease of life after I had lost hope. My brothers and sisters were equally rescued by security agents and taken to Minna. It is a very horrible and bitter experience that I hate to recall. Watching my father die has been the greatest shock of my life as a boy,” he said.
Emmanuel’s trauma has reduced but feeding in the school has been worrisome despite the support from the Camp.
He told our reporter that the camp management had discussed payment schedules for tuition fees and school bills with the University in case of late payment.
Why I Retired from Better Job to Settle for IDP Camp – Principal Reveals
The Principal of International Christian School, Uhogia, shared her story of how her students were able to perform excellently in both internal and External Examinations.
Blessing Ochea is a member of Christian International. She said: “I left my high-paying job to render my humanitarian service to the school at a time when the camp experienced influx of displaced persons from the North East.
Blessing, a graduate of Microbiology, narrated how she moved up to the level of principal over three years in teaching at the school. She said due to her passion for the job and the children, “I built the school on the foundation of discipline, and the volume of experience I had at previous well-known standard schools.”
Despite little or no educational resources like specimens for science students and textbooks, that have hindered the performance of the student. Nevertheless, they are motivated and inspired to study well which translated to better results in both internal and external exams.
“We have about 168 students across various tertiary institutions and the least grade on UTME result is 250,” she said.
We have Shortage of Sanitary Pad for Girls – Camp Supervisor
PRNigeria gathered that the management of the camp has been wary about this issue, but efforts are on to address all the issues.
According to the Camp Supervisor, Evelyn Omigure, noted that “they have rolled out a series of sensitization programmes to educate the girls on menstrual hygiene and proper use of toilets.
“We invited doctors, and public health experts to enlighten and educate our girls and the widows in the camp against infectious diseases,” she said.
In a nutshell, Boko Haram insurgents have done more damage to the present and future of the country that can be imagined. The government needs to put a stop to all manners of terrorism and protect the schools.
A cross-section of Nigerians that we spoke to called on the government to put a stop to the menace of out-of-school children in Nigeria which UNESCO put at 20 million.
This report is produced with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability project (CMEDIA) funded by the MacArthur Foundation.
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Report By: PRNigeria.com