Month: March 2014

“I just hope that God would give us the strength to get our house back”

Ahmed, a young man who used to live in Maiduguri but has since left for Abuja, tells TAP how he lost two younger siblings, his family home and a cousin over the past year due to militia violence. He also talks about how communities used to harbor militants, thinking they were working for religious reasons, but how that has now appeared not to be so. He has asked that his voice be altered before posting his testimony.

There were two of my younger ones that we went home to pay for their school fees. At the end of the day, they went to register when those guys struck and killed the two of them and that’s one bitter experience. Some military men were pursuing one of the guys and was holding gun. We entered into one corner. The people of that area, they are the one who took the guy, brought one of the guys into their home and hid him, instead of releasing the guy to the military to arrest him and then maybe persecute. They said that the man is working for them. With the way things are happening in my place before, we thought these guys were out for something like maybe religion, but from what we are seeing its like it is beyond religion. We cannot know what exactly is happening in my area. Everyone is being attacked. There’s no discrimination against religion, sex, or any other thing. they just attack at random.

The second thing is that in May last year, they went and burnt our house down. So these guys burnt our house down, but we give God glory, no life was lost in my family, but the house was razed down completely. Up until now, nothing has been done about the house, and the state government… but I don’t want to speak much about that, because its like there’s a lot of politics about what is going on. I Don’t want to speak much about that. I just hope that God would give us the strength to get our house back.

The last experience the recent one, the attack of FGC (inaudible). That one is not my blood brother, my cousin lost his life among the people that were massacred.

Those are the experiences that I’ve had.

“They burnt down our house, our village is still burning”

Ali speaks to a civil society worker in Maiduguri about his life since militants razed every home in his village, including his. This testimony was provided in Hausa. The English translation is below.

I have not had any help from the government since my house got burnt. I don’t have anything and I need help any how it will come. They burnt down our house, our village is still burning, at the moment I am now no where (homeless), it was someone that is taking pity and accommodated me in a nearby bush with my seven children.

“We have been praying so the state will be normal again”

TAP spoke to Amina, a nurse and midwife who lived and worked in Maiduguri until just this year, when she fled for fear of the violence. She now lives and works in Gombe, and spoke about the state of public services and hospitals in Borno State under the insurgency.

Formerly the North was a peaceful place, but this thing has affected our community drastically, because most of our people that are in Borno State, those that are petty traders and are engaged in other businesses, most of them… some have been killed, some have relocated. And you know most of us including myself are no more in Borno, including other friends of mine, you know. All of us we are managing where we are.

We have been praying so the state will be normal again, so that by the grace of God we can go back to our houses in Maiduguri and Borno State in general. So it has really affected us, and not only our community.

Right now, this thing has affected almost everybody, everybody, every normal human being in Borno State has been affected. Mostly non-indigenes have left, even in the university, state hospital, even in the management board, most of the non-indigenes have left. And yes, it’s actually affecting services seriously. A lot of people are retiring and some that have retired have no replacement, no deployment. That affects hospitals seriously. And when the hospitals are affected, it’s the poor people that are affected. There is difficulty in employing more people; If possible they could have been employing more nurses and doctors.

Right now as we’re discussing, I’m telling you, not in Borno State alone. But in other states they are trying. I know of my colleagues that have left Borno State employment, they have picked up employment in Jigawa and they are doing fine; but here no deployment, no form of human resources. No staff to serve in the hospital; which is not fair on the side of the masses.

“It’s not what they take, it’s what they do to you that is the problem”

According to Halima, a businesswoman who has lived in her neighborhood in Yola for the past 35 years, robberies and armed violence during curfew hours are becoming more and more widespread. She believes that the displacement and armed violence is causing insecurity and societal distrust throughout the region, even in areas that are not seeing the worst of the violence.

You have young guys that have not been able to go to school, or they have been to school but they don’t have jobs. And because of that they use that opportunity to rob, disturbing people, crime… the problem is that everybody, all of us here, we don’t sleep with two eyes closed. We sleep with an eye open. And also, everyone in the community is concerned about this.

Just recently, some young boys came into my house in the middle of the night around three o’clock. They robbed us. True, they had not touched anybody, but they came in numbers, about 10 of them, and then after coming into the house they broke into the house, after they broke into the house they woke up everybody – in fact, smashing doors, smashing windows, and then they entered, they didn’t touch anybody. And if this kind of things when they happen, even the neighbors, when something happens like that they don’t feel comfortable because you share somebody house being smashed or crashed or people, in the middle of the night, they can’t be free. Nobody will come out and help you, no matter what you do. If you scream, it is useless. If you even call police they would not come. By the time they come, these people have gone. Also, even if I were the one, if something happened to my neighbor I won’t go out. I would be even afraid of calling police, because first of all, we don’t know if they are the ones who are robbing you.

In Adamawa, my state, we have curfew, but imagine if the curfew people are going around breaking into houses. With guns and machetes. Wherever they go, they have these strong torchlights that they use, you’ll think it’s NEPA. They don’t like to see their faces. And if you have on security lights, they will break the lights. Things like that. Everywhere, everywhere I can say in my state everyone is not sleeping peacefully. I have stayed in my neighborhood for 35 years, nothing happened like that. Except now. Now that I don’t even have a husband, I and my children and my partner are all living like this. And the irony of it is that there are rich, rich people with big, big mansions, they don’t go into those kinds of houses, because they know that maybe they have security. They go into poor people’s houses. It’s not what they take, it’s what they do to you that is the problem.

These kinds of things happen in all the three states that they say are emergency states. And sometimes you would see them in something like uniform. They put something on top of it that you don’t get. When you hear People say “don’t tell the police, is it the police that are coming up to come and rob people.” So you see, it’s not easy for somebody to even talk about this. But I’m talking not because I don’t want people to hear, but what I don’t want they have already done to me, so why can’t I come and talk?

And it’s not only Adamawa state; it’s in every one of these local governments and states. So there is a lot of problems that people are facing. Sometimes they think these people that break into your houses, are people that run away from other states. And when they are in your place they will just do that, because they don’t have anything else to do. If you say you’ll call you the police, they would say “don’t call the police because they’re the one’s doing this”. If you say let’s call the soldiers, people they would say, “don’t do this because they are conniving with them to do all this rubbish”.