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HomeIn-DepthRepentant Terrorists Coddled by Government,  But Victims of Terrorism Get Stiffed

Repentant Terrorists Coddled by Government,  But Victims of Terrorism Get Stiffed

Chibok Christian Leaders Decry Two-tiered Standard for Aid

By Luka Binniyat and Mike Odeh

(Maiduguri) – The misery for mothers and kids in Nigeria’s  war-torn Borno State is Biblical, according to TruthNigeria reporters interviewing Christian residents there. But although the Islamist insurgents known as Boko Haram (Western learning forbidden) devastated both Christians and Muslims since 2009, the Christian survivors have been at the back of the line for aid, locals say.  

With an estimated 50,000 Christian Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Gwoza county (Local Governance Area) languishing in various camps within Nigeria, Governor Babagana Umaru Zulum stands accused of frustrating their return, advocates for displaced Christians told TruthNigeria last week.

Zulum also was charged with discriminating against Christians and promoting their Islamisation — all allegations denied by the Spokesman of the Government of Borno State, Prof. Usman Tar.

Repentant Boko Haram Get Preferential Treatment Over Christian Victims

Speaking exclusively to Truth Nigeria in Maiduguri, the Director General of the Centre for Justice On Religion and Ethnicity (CJREN), Pastor Kalamu Musa-Dikwa said: “Over  50,000 Christians from Gwoza County in Borno State, Nigeria, are currently living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Taraba, Nasarawa states, Abuja (Nigeria capital city) and the Republic of Cameroon,” he said.

 “This displacements resulted from the Boko Haram insurgency, which attained its peak in 2014 with the goal of eradicating Western influence and Christianity in Nigeria,” he added.

“While some  Boko Haram terrorists who attacked and killed  Christians, destroyed their communities and displaced them are being resettled and receiving monthly stipends in Maiduguri today as part of a rehabilitation program, the Christian communities affected by the insurgency continue to face existential challenges with no form of support from Borno State government,” he said.

“When the insurgency gained height in April 2014, the Islamists burned down 40 churches in Maiduguri and went to Gwoza and Danboa, where they either killed or drove away ethnic Christians who were the majority,” he said.

“Since then, about 24,000 Gwoza Christians have fled to Northern Cameroon and are living on the fringe of survival. We have about 15,000 of them in Nasarawa State, 5,000 in Taraba state, and a couple of thousand in Abuja and Adamawa State.”

Zulum Frustrating Return of Christian IDPs

Rev. Dikwa further stated, “IDPs and refugees in Nigeria often face difficult living conditions and limited access to basic necessities like food, water, and healthcare.”

“With the gradual return of peace, the Borno State Government has refused to bring back the Christians to their ancestral lands, while Muslims in IDP camps have already been relocated back to Gwoza. Since last year, Gov. Zulum has been resettling Muslim IDPs to Gwoza, leaving out the Christians.”

Rev. Dikwa  explained further that,

“I petitioned President Bola Tinubu regarding this situation, and in March 2024, the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) was directed to investigate the matter. However, after meeting with Borno State government officials, myself and members of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Gwoza, the NIA official returned to Abuja and refused to pick my calls till date. And no action has been taken to assist them with basic needs or how to return them securely.”

Marginalization of Christians Worse Under Zulum

Speaking exclusively to Truth Nigeria from Abuja, the President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Bitrus Pogu said he had gotten the same treatment as Dikwa.

“Marginalization, this is what the Governor of  Borno state does not like to be spoken about,” he said.

“For example, for over 10 years, the people of Gwoza, who are essentially Christians, have been displaced after fleeing to Cameroon and other parts of Northern Nigeria.

“All our efforts to ensure their return have been abortive because the governor and the Senator representing the area (Sen. Ali Ndume) have refused to cooperate with us and the Federal Government.

“‘In Chibok, which is where I come from, the Christians are over 80 percent of the population, but it will shock you that every appointment in government is a Muslim. The Chairman of Chibok Local Government Area (county) is a Muslim; the Head of Works is a Muslim; the Education Secretary is a Muslim, and so on. Yet this is a Christian LGA. It is the same thing in Askira Uba LGA; It is also the same thing in Gwoza  and Hawul LGAs. These are all Christian-majority LGAs.

“Christians are marginalized in every aspect in Borno State  whether it is in political appointments and promotions or in government work. They will pick a Junior government official who is a Muslim and place him above his seniors that are Christians. These are things that have been happening over the years. But under Zulum, it has become worse.

“Unfortunately at the national level, the press has uplifted Zulum to make him look like a good person,  but that’s a wrong image of him.

Higher Islamic School in Christian Chibok

“Now consider this: In the budget of this year (2024) the only project that he deemed fit to bring to Chibok is a Higher Islamic College. And Chibok is predominantly Christian. There is a Central Mosque already in front of the palace of the District Head who is also a Muslim

 “With a Higher Islamic College now, the impression is to make Chibok look like Muslim town. But there are churches all over the place and a Bible School, too. And we learned that Zulum wants to site his Islamic School close to our Bible School. He is trying to sow a seed of conflict. Because sooner or later, they will say that the Bible School should leave. And  crisis will brew. So we don’t want that kind of project in Chibok.

“The governor should fix all those abandoned and dilapidated roads that you took to Chibok. For 15 years now Chibok has not been with electricity.  For  all that media praising of Zulum,  it has not been felt by the Christians in Southern Borno.

“The Christian communities in Southern Borno were very visible and relatively developed in the past. But today the once tiny Muslim settlements around here have all sprang up and overtaken us in growth because of the selective projects and infrastructure given to them all,” Pogu said.

Zulum Spokesman Denies Marginalization

Borno State Commissioner for Information and Internal Security, Prof. Usman Tar, has disagreed with the allegations level against Gov. Zulum, saying Zulum is a fair-minded governor that embraces inclusiveness in his governance.

“One of the main reasons for the success story of Governor Zulum is that he does not compromise competence in all his political appointments,” Tar told Truth Nigeria in an exclusive interview in his office in Maiduguri.

According to him, the governor has been so fair in his appointments that even people that are not of Borno origin are given appointments.

Luka Binniyat is a veteran conflict reporter for TruthNigeria based in Kaduna.

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