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We Miss Our Ancestral Homes – Sokoto IDPs



Since their villages were attacked in July by yet to be apprehended gunmen, leading to the death of over 40 people in Sokoto State, the survivors, though taking refuge in an Internally Displaced Persons camp, said they are still in shock. ANKELI EMMANUEL (Sokoto) writes.

According to the IDPs, cold shivers still continue to run in their spine everyday between 3 to 6pm as they collectively reflect on the mental picture of how their kinsmen were brutally murdered by angels of death, though they long dearly to see their ancestral home once again. The breaking of each day reminds them of how bitter their lives have become as the bandits are still believed to be occupying the bushes around their villages. As they strove to remember some of the last moments spent with those that were killed when gunmen attacked their village, they were however forced to quickly recall how their lives since then, have been that of double tragedy. After taking a deep breath, one of the IDPs, who simply gave his name as Mohammed, said even while in the camp, angels of death still hover around their lives. According to him, after Tabani was attacked, some members of the neighbouring villages, who ran to take refuge in Gandi for fear of attack, equally had a bitter taste of death as some of them drowned while trying to return to their homes.

No doubt, the numbers of IDPs in Gandi village of Rabah local government area in Sokoto has reduced drastically. However, that is not a confirmation that stability has returned to the affected areas. Speaking on the current number of IDPs and why the reduction, Alhaji Lawal Maidoki, State Chairman, Zakkat and Endowment Committee, said they have less than 3000 people left in the IDP. According to him, the number reduced because it’s a normal thing that nobody will be comfortable living in IDP an camp save for occurrences beyond one’s control. Maidonki said, a good number of the IDPs, whose villages were not attacked but have to run to safety have gone back because it’s farming season. “Some of the villages close to the attacked Tabani, who escaped in fear, have gone back. Others, including some survivors from the attacked Tabani vilage, have also relocated to stay with their relatives, just as some who can afford it, also rented houses in Gandi village where they stay as IDPs. “We are trying our best to see how the IDPs can return to their villages as quickly as possible but for now, that will require superior power by the Nigerain security as the bandits are still believed to be in the forest”.

Lawal said. While some of the villages around attacked Tabani are gradually coming back to life, Tabani still remains a ghost of itself as nobody can attempt a return even after almost 50 days. Speaking with some of the villagers who often go to their villages in the morning hours to undertake some farm work before returning around 12noon, they said they were left with no option than to risk their lives because there is no place like home. “We have spent all our lives in that village. Starting another life and not even a pleasurable one for that matter here in IDP camp, is a terrible nightmare for us. “Come to think of it, we are all farmers and this is farming season. If we do not farm now, our lives and that of our entire families will be ravaged by hunger in the nearest future because we cannot continue to live here for ever.

“Despite the massive exodus of our people after Tabani was attacked, we, the traumatised villagers of Kursa, Warwanna and others that were not attacked, have put our heads in our palms and gone back everyday to do farm work before returning. “Though, we no longer go with our families, because we cannot guarantee any safety as the devilish attackers are still believed to be very much around. “More so that, the military, launching offensive attacks on their hideouts in parts of Zamfara State, is said to be pushing them towards this axis. “We are however appealing to the federal government to, not only deploy more personnel to their axis, but also sustain offensives against these killers whose mission is to simply discredit any leader in Nigeria. “Their mission is amongst other things to make Nigeria and Nigerians a laughing stock in the comity of nations. “And most painfully, the perpetrators of these evil acts are of the same faith, culture and geography with us.

They recruit people by deceit or force. They brag about their exploits even in the open. “Let the federal government work more on its intelligence gathering. These people are known even to the locals. But because you don’t have assurance of identity concealing, most people find it difficult to disclose some useful information to the relevant authorities”. In his recollection of how he cheated death when Tabani village was attacked, Isah Tabani said he nearly gave up when the attackers chased after them with motorcycles and were firing guns indiscriminately. “Two of those that we were running together got hit by the bullets and dropped dead. I considered continuing the race but quickly realised the attackers would not go back until everybody was down. “I therefore fell down as if I was hit by their bullet as well. The attackers rode by and were speaking both Fulfude and Hausa languages. They were shouting and instructing everybody to come out of their hiding places or else, their bullets would snuff the life out of them. “I stayed quiet while the threat lasted. They also promised to rain bullets on all those that were already dead. But luckily for me, they never did. “They were all dressed in military uniforms, except that they wore rubber boots”. When asked if he is satisfied with the treatment in the IDP camps, Mohammed said they would continue to remain grateful to the state government led by governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah; the Sultan Of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111 and many other spirit individuals too numerous to mention. The IDPs however, continue to appeal to the federal, state and local governments, as well as all othe relevant stakeholders, to come to their rescue towards ensuring quick return of safety to their areas.



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