The Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, has expressed anger at the officials accused of diverting over 50 bags of rice meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in North East, Nigeria.
To this end, Shettima called on the Nigerian Police to expedite prosecution of the arrested officials whose actions have caused grief to the IDPs sacked from the homes by Boko Haram terrorists.
The Governor who revealed in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Isa Gusau, on Wednesday, said this will ensure justice is served and such acts prevented in the future.
Some officials at different IDPs camps were arrested recently for their alleged involvement in diverting food materials meant for IDPs for their selfish gains.
But Shettima has asked the Borno State Commissioner of Police ensure prosecution of anyone arrested with a view to having anyone found guilty, jailed.
The Governor’s directive followed reports that hundreds of Internally Displaced Persons on Tuesday morning arrested an official of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) over alleged theft of food items meant for displaced persons at the Bakassi IDP camp, which is an estate of 400 units of two bedrooms built by Governor Shettima’s administration in Maiduguri.
According to report, the displaced persons from seven local government areas are taking refuge in the camp since 2014.
Also, four officials were said to have been arrested by the police after IDPs held them.
“Governor Shettima was very bitter about the development and has vowed to ensure anyone found wanting amongst those arrested is sentenced to years in prison, the statement read.
Shettima also noted that the food items in question were part of those bought by the Borno State Government for feeding of IDP’S in the month of December, maintaining that the Borno State Government and the World Food Programme were so far feeding IDPs since the beginning of December, 2016, pending supplies from NEMA.
“Governor Shettima approved funds for the food stuff at the IDPs’ camp and he regards any attempt to divert food meant for IDPs as a crime against humanity which must not go unpunished.
“The Governor has promptly asked the Commissioner of Police in Borno State to expedite action that should ensure the prosecution of anyone arrested whether officials or anybody at all, in order to secure conviction by the court.
“The Governor has told the Commissioner of Police not to entertain any plea from any quarter at all.
“He would like the court sentence, if secured at the court, to serve as warning to whoever might be engaged in shortchanging citizens who live in trauma having lost their loved ones, means of livelihood and their homes as a result of violent attacks by insurgents,” the statement further read.
The Governor further assured IDPs that his administration would continue to take measures that would enhance their welfare, saying that “as part of these measures, the Bakassi IDPs’ camp, where the incident was said to have occurred, has between three to four Divisional Police Officers of the respective local government areas living at the camp.”
He explained that the idea of having policemen living at IDP camps was part of measures introduced by Governor Shettima since 2014 in order to maximise security of lives and property as well as the protection of human rights across all IDPs’ camps and other parts of Borno State.
Information also revealed that one official in collaboration with three Internally Displaced Persons were intercepted while allegedly loading fifty bags of 50 kilogram sacks of rice into a waiting truck.
According to reports, the food items’ theft is happening at a time that United Nations (UN) agencies are calling for more food aid to displaced persons in the northeast to cushion the severe malnutrition crisis in the region ravaged by over seven years insurgency perpetrated by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
In the same vein, UNICEF has called for more nutritious food for mostly children in the region that it said risk death before the end of the year if they do not get need nutrition.
The agency stressed that over 75,000 children, nursing mothers and pregnant women may die as a result of malnutrition.