Members of the Northern Elders Forum, led by Maitama Sule and Paul Unongo, were on Friday stopped by security at the gate of an IDP camp, as they tried to make donations.
The elders arrived Maiduguri the Borno State capital and were received by the governor, Kashim Shettima.
The NEF members said they were in Maiduguri to commiserate with the people and government of Borno on their experiences with Boko Haram, and to congratulate the governor on his work as chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum.
They called for a more united northern Nigeria, and commended the Nigerian military for helping the state to chase out Boko Haram from its Sambisa forest stronghold.
Mr. Shettima expressed concern that the north may continue to suffer crises like Boko Haram and communal clashes in Kaduna and Benue states should its present leaders fail to educate its large youth population.
At the end of the courtesy visit, Mr. Shettima directed that the visitors be given logistics and security to visit the Shehu’s palace and some of IDP camps that were part of their itinerary.
But they were stopped at the Dalori-1 IDP camp by soldiers as they made efforts to access the facility to deliver some 100 bags of rice they brought along.
After nearly 30 minutes of explanations and phone calls, the elders left to catch their flights.
The bags of rice were not delivered at the camps. And they were also not allowed to meet the IDPs.
The soldiers stood their ground, despite explanations by protocol and escort policemen accompanying the NEF members.
A protocol officer told PREMIUM TIMES that the soldiers said they were not adequately notified of the visit to the camp.
“They said only the Garrison Commander could make them to open the gate of the camp for the elderly state statesmen. And they said they had not been given such orders,” said one of the protocol officers who would not want his name mentioned.
One of the NEF members, Hakeem Baba Ahmed, told journalists “As part of our visit, we brought 100 bags of rice as our token contribution to our brothers and sisters in Borno state. This is not money from any government; this is our own personal contribution as members of the northern elders’ forum.
“It is unfortunate there was a breakdown of communication. The camp management didn’t know of our arrival. But we are not disappointed. We are coming back again. We will find a good way of handing over these bags of rice so that it gets to the people that it is intended for.”
He said they could have chosen another camp to make the presentation, but that they had no time.
Those who visited Muktar Muhamma, Yahaya Kwande, Muhammed Bello Kirfi, Ango Abdullahi, Paul Tarfa, Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Bashir Sodangi, among others.
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