Borno elders on Wednesday added their voices to the call that the internally displaced persons who were forced out of their communities by the Boko Haram terrorists be allowed to cast their votes in the camps and not in the recently reclaimed territories.
The elders who spoke through their forum (Borno Elders’ Forum) warned that forcing the IDP back into the reclaimed territories that were once under the control of Boko Haram terrorists may mean more harm to them, even as they worried that most of the dislodged terrorists are still lurking around in bushes around the reclaimed communities.
In a statement signed by their spokesperson, Bulama Gubio, the elders said though they appreciate the efforts of the Nigerians military in ensuring that some of the villages were reclaimed from the clutch of the Boko Haram, asking the IDPs to go back when it is still extremely dangerous to do so was the most uncharitable gesture towards the people of Borno state.
“We urge the Federal and Borno State Governments not to think about returning anyone to these communities without being first sure that they are safe and reconstructed…
“This is what should be done for now in the interest of humanity and for posterity to judge all of us whether in or out of Government,” the group said.
It added: “The Military had said about three weeks ago, that part of the reasons it took it a longer time to enter territories being occupied by insurgents was because of the need to regularly get rid of mines buried on most routes by insurgents. If mines could have been buried along routes, what more of communities where the insurgents lived? What more of homes they forcefully occupied?
“We have had reoccurring attacks along Ngamdu-Maiduguri road which is just some 100 kilometres away from Maiduguri that is considered the safest part of the State given security presence. We are no doubt likely to have insurgents in villages around most of the reclaimed territories and that is not to say that the military didn’t do well.
“It is only natural that people retreat in war to either flee or regroup and whichever way is chosen, any unarmed civilian that is cited could be a target of severe revenge from what we know of insurgents in Borno State. We therefore think it will a very unnecessary risk to take, if displaced persons are returned back at the moment.
“We understand the military is engaged in mop up operations. That shouldn’t be interrupted so that not just headquarters of local government areas but indeed villages and roads within the State and those linking other States will become safe for motorists because for nearly two years and as still stand, of the five routes linking Maiduguri, only that connecting Damaturu, Potiskum, Azare to Kano is being plied by motorists even that risks are taken because of occasional attacks in Ngamdu notwithstanding heavy security presence on the route that lessened attacks compared to what was happening a year ago.
“We equally wish to plead that our people should under no circumstance be disenfranchised. We strongly advise that the forth-coming elections should hold. The internally displaced persons should be allowed to vote from their camps as earlier agreed by INEC. If elections will hold in volatile nations like Afganistan and Iraq there should be no reason to deny Nigerians under any condition of exercising their civic rights. We cautioned that reasons should be prevail for the nation to continue to be in peace.”