Nigeria: Onion Leave-Eating Inmates - Govt Doesn't Keep IDP Camp in Bauchi - Nema

23 April 2019

Alarmed by riling stories of inmates of an internally displaced persons camp in Bauchi State, the National Emergency Management Agency has distanced itself from the existence of the said facility.

Report by a national news outfit had quoted 'inmates' of the said IDP camp as languishing in penury and squalor, which had forced them to depend on onion leaves as means of survival.

But the Spokesman for NEMA, Sani Datti, told Vanguard that the agency does not operate any camp for internally-displaced persons in Bauchi State.

Datti explained that all the states in the country where NEMA keeps camps are well documented to show the location of the camp, the number of inmates and the routine for feeding and maintaining them.

"I can tell you that the National Emergency Management Agency does not know the 'IDP camp' in Bauchi that they are talking about.

"That simply means that the federal government does not operate or recognize any camp in Bauchi because we cater for all such camps wherever one has been established based on need and circumstance," the spokesman said.

"How could there have been an IDP camp in Bauchi and NEMA Zonal Office in Gombe does not know about it? the spokesman queried rhetorically.

Similarly, the Bauchi State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, equally distanced itself from the said IDP camp, pointing out that there was none to the best of their knowledge.

Speaking with Vanguard newspaper on Monday in Bauchi, Director Relief and Rehabilitation for SEMA, Kabiru Yusuf Kobi, said there is no registered IDP camp in Bauchi, adding the IDPs came to the state to farm.

He, however, acknowledged that over 2,000 unregistered displaced persons migrated from Borno State to Bauchi State after they were dislodged from their community by Boko Haram.

"We read a report that IDPs eat onion leaves in Bauchi. That's not true, they don't eat onion leaves. First, we don't have an IDP camp in Bauchi. When they came to our state, we told them that we couldn't camp them because we didn't have the resources to accommodate them. But they chose to stay and farm.

"They called and got a large piece of land from The wife of a former head of state, who happens to be their sister, and they have been farming there since last year.

"They are not our responsibility, but because we are humans, we are looking at how to integrate them into our communities," he said.

She said most of the IDPs are Shua-arabs who migrated from Borno State where safe spaces provided for IDPs have been overstretched following incessant attacks by Boko Haram and other armed militias.

"You know, government has a data base of people in IDP camps in various states across the country. Although, I don't have enough information, but I think the reason they have not been receiving support is because they are not registered.

"I learned of their plight very recently, and to be honest, they are really suffering. Most of these people moved from Borno State because the camps over there have been overstretched. I hope government looks into their situation and do whatever that is necessary to alleviate their sufferings," she said.

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