The House of Representatives has condemned the alleged use of tear gas on harmless Internally Displaced Persons by the Nigeria Police during their peaceful protest against food deprivation in Teachers Village Camp in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Tuesday.
The lawmakers said it was unfortunate that the same IDPs who had been deprived of food and other items needed for their survival are the same people who are being brutally suppressed for crying out against the injustice they face daily.
They stated that it was public knowledge that despite the outcry to relevant authorities about the theft of food and other aid items procured with state resources by highly-placed politicians, “nothing has been done to stop them from converting IDPs’ food and other items into campaign tools in the countdown to the general elections.”
Chairman of the House Committee on IDPs, Refugees and North-East Initiatives, Mr Sani Zorro, in a statement on Friday, urged the Federal Government to urgently supply desperately needed items to the IDPs and punish the perpetrators and beneficiaries of stolen food and other items belonging to the displaced persons.
He added that the committee was willing to share vital information capable of fishing out the culprits, no matter how highly placed.
The statement read, “The committee wishes to express sadness over yesterday’s protest by Internally Displaced Persons at Teachers Village camp in Maiduguri, and the needless resort to the use of tear gas to disperse them by the police.
“It is on record that the authorities concerned have continued to deprive the starving and desperate IDPs of food and non-food items whose everyday complaints, pleas, and outcries only fell on the deaf ears of insensitive officials charged with their care.
“Sadly, massive consignments of these food and non-food items procured with state resources are now either at varying stages of expiration or are being shared (in the open) to highly-placed politicians for use as campaign tools in the countdown to our general elections.
“Evidence also abound of the age-old diversion and illegal sale of humanitarian assistance items in the open market. This is evil at its best, reprehensible and unacceptable to all men and women of conscience.”
The statement further read, “The committee urges the Federal Government to act as a matter of supreme urgency by ensuring immediate supply of the desperately needed items without further delay and punish the perpetrators and beneficiaries of the inhumane crime. As part of its oversight functions, the committee is willing and ready to share vital information capable of fishing out the culprits no matter how highly placed.”
The legislators commended the commitment by the Independent National Electoral Commission to protecting the civil and political rights of IDPs, by guaranteeing their participation in the upcoming national elections.
They, however, implored the electoral umpire to note the latest displacement situation in parts of Borno and Adamawa States that had swelled the already overcrowded camps.