Month: February 2014

“What happens to a person, happens to God”

The following transcript is of an interview with Hussaina, a community service worker who has lived in Maiduguri for decades. She  spoke to TAP about the violence she has seen in her neighborhood in Maiduguri, and the losses her community faced during a spate of violence on February 18th. She personally has not lost any of her family in the fighting as at the time of this recording. 

Initially, Borno State is a state where Muslims and Christians have been leaving together very cordially and in peace. And during this insurgency, a few years ago, and now on Feb 18th, the violence has affected even the development of the state. People are displaced.

There was a woman that lost 6 of her children on February 19th. Burn her house, burn her children to ashes, no recognition. And up to today as I’m speaking to you, I have never heard whether government has assisted her or rebuild her house or given her any compensation.

Another one too in Umurari, a driver with seven children. His house was demolished. He found a place and just made a small shed with his children, believe that during his retirement he would go back to his village in Dambua local government. In the last two months, his house in the village was burnt, two people were killed in that house. No compensation.

Government has not come to their aid to see what is happening or even to take their statistics. The only assistance that government is doing, to me I have observed there is bias. Some local government, government has visited. Others government has not visited. To me I believe that what happens to a person happens to God. It shouldn’t have this segregation. As long as government intends to help.

We have widows that have been crying seriously for help. Especially now that school has opened. School fees is a problem. And nobody is willing to take responsibility of another person because of the situation we are in the states. And security men, too, have lost their lives. If something is happening, if you ask them to go, they will not go., they will kill them, they will drive their families from the house. They would not have any benefits to support the family.

So this thing is becoming so problematic in the state. Nobody can go out and say “this is what is happening. And this thing has really affected the society. You cannot move freely in the town. People will come to us and say “people have written us letters that they will be coming”.

People are even saying “maybe government is involved”. If not, why is this thing continuing for the past 6 years and no solution to it?” People are walking helter-skelter, OK. “Who are the shadows? Who are the people sponsoring it?” Up ’til today, we have never found out. You will find out that they have paraded this person as Boko Haram, and the person arrested will say I was sent by this person”. And up till today, nobody has ever brought out that person publicly as introducing these people. Up til today, these soldiers wo’nt tell us “these are the sponsors.” We have never seen anyone say “these are the people sponsoring this violence”. No stop to it.

It’s very alarming.

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Introduction to TAP

Like every other Nigerian, we have watched with great fear and deep concern the deterioration of law and order and the mass killings currently ongoing in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa over the past few years. But perhaps just as worrying as the violence is our collective helplessness. The media has focussed mostly on the political ramifications, rather than the human impact, of the violence in the northeast. This has affected Nigerians’ reactions by fostering fatigue and not the expected sympathy and anger. We believe the current state of affairs to be insidious, and recognize the need for increased awareness of the human impact of the violence, as well as for a platform through which Nigerians can speak directly to each other and use as a springboard for further, more people-focused activism.

The Testimonial Archive Project (Hereafter referred to as “TAP” or “Archive”) seeks to create an online archive of the voices of ordinary Nigerian citizens living in the northeast that details the human cost of the violence in the north-eastern Nigerian states of Yobe, Adamawa, and Borno. TAP will exist online as a crowd-sourced, people-driven project that will rely on the input of civil society organizations, both based in the north-east of the country and elsewhere, for audio footage and research information.

This page will host the archive, as well as the transcriptions of each audio file. Each of the persons who provided a testimony for the use of the Archive are resident in or from one of the affected northeastern states, unless otherwise stated. Below are our editorial guidelines. Do note that these may change or be added to in coming weeks or months.

  • TAP does not have to use every audio that it collects. Only good quality recordings will be used for the project
  • Audio from the interviews uploaded to the site may be edited to ensure minimal repetition and that each testimony is no more than 5 minutes
  • TAP will use content that targets religious or ethnic groups, as long as it does not target at any individual. In other words, we will use a testimony that says “Muslims are causing the violence” but not one that says “Hauwa/Mohammed/Abdul is causing the violence”

Please note that the views expressed by the interviewees do not represent those held by TAP. We will aim to update this website with content twice weekly with testimonies and resources on happenings in the north-east from news and resource persons who work or focus on the region. Please reach out to us with any questions you may have in the comments section.