It was a dream come true for Kaduna state government after it succeeded in recovering Mando Transit Hajj Camp from victims of the 2011 post-election violence, known as Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) three years after they had occupied the camp.
The IDPs were victims of the post-election violence in Southern Kaduna, where they have been living for decades before they were driven out of the area after their houses were destroyed during the crisis.
Majority of the IDPs were Hausa-Fulani from some villages in Zonkwa and Zangon-Kataf, all in southern part of the state. Most of them losttheir loved ones in the crisis; some, their children while others lost their wives and husbands.
It could be recalled that the IDPs used the camp as temporary shelter pending when security in their villages and town improved and their houses renovated before they return; however, they later refused to vacatethe camp.
All efforts by the state government and state Pilgrims Welfare Board management to take back the camp from the refugees or IDPs provedabortive as they said they would not vacate the camp until they were compensated.
They argued that they had no places to go since their houses were destroyed during the 2011 violence, citing insecurity as their reason for the unwillingness to return to their villages.
The former state governor, late Patrick Yakowa, who was from southernpart of the state, pleaded with the victims as well as tried his best to recover the camp from the IDPs so that the state Pilgrims Board could use it for the airlift of its pilgrims that year, since the camp was built for that purpose but they remained headstrong.
In fact, despite the fact that 25,000 naira was given to every head of a family at the camp by late Yakowa’s government, for them to rent a house in the town so as to vacate the venue, they still refused to leave.
The greatest surprise to the state government was that after the IDPs collected the money some of them still remained at the camp saying they couldn’t leave because the money was not adequate to rent a house..
This prompted Alhaji Aliko Dangote to come to the aid of the victims by giving them a donation of 100 thousand naira each, for them to vacate the camp and rent a decent place to stay with their family members.
The last batch of the IDPs who remained at the camp numbered 331 and they claimed that they had not benefited from the money shared by the business mogul and state government. While some say the money given to them was used to buy drugs to cure themselves of their bullet wounds, sustained during the crisis 3 years ago, hence their continued stay at the camp.
Other charity organizations too had visited the camp to provide assistance to the IDPs; In fact, for the period the IDPs occupied the camp, such charity organizations opened their offices at the camp to render services free of charge to the victims.
When Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero came into power, he pleaded with the IDPs to vacate the camp and urged all Islamic scholars and emirs in the state to beg the IDPs to leave the camp so that hajj activities could be conducted.
All the pleadings and calls on the displaced persons to leave yielded no positive result until penultimate week, when succour came their way as the State Governor, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero reached an agreement with the IDPs leadership at the camp for them to vacate the camp.
It was gathered that the governor agreed to pay them some monetary assistance for them to go and rent a place outside the camp so that the place would be used for the purpose it was meant.
Governor Yero was said to have doled out 20 million naira for the remaining331 IDPs at the camp, with each of them given a sum of 55 to 60,000 naira each.
According to a statement signed by the Public Relations Officer ofthe state Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Yunusa Muhammad Abdullahi, all the IDPs had before receiving the assistance, agreed to leave the camp.
The beneficiaries of the government gesture include 126 males, 128females and 77 youth groups, who received the cash assistance in an exercise carried out by a committee set up to look into the affairs of the IDPs and it was gathered that without any hesitation, they immediately vacated the camp.
It was further gathered that security personnel were beefed up at the venue to witness the IDPs’ departure from the camp after collecting the cash donation.
Women and children were seen with various Bagco bags containing their belongings as they left the camp which they have occupied for three years. It was really a pathetic situation.
Some of the IDPs still believe they, like other victims of the post-election violence across the northern country in 2011, deserved compensation from the Federal Government. Therefore, most concerned citizens called on state government to provide enough security in the villages affected during the 2011election violence so that these innocent souls who may wish to return to their houses can do so without fear.
The chairman of the committee that succeeded in reaching the agreement with the IDPs , Abdurrahman Mahmoud, is the Permanent Secretary in the state. He explained to the IDPs before they left the camp that the state government had rendered the assistance to them to empower them and enable them meet the challenges in the society.
According to him, what was given to them was not compensation, but rather, a form of support by government to ease their sufferings. He commended the efforts of leaders of the IDPs for the effective coordination of their members.
Meanwhile, the IDPs leader, who spoke on their behalf, Malam Dan’azumi Musa commended the state government for the assistance and appealed to them to judiciously utilise the money given to them to sustain their livelihood; particularly to acquire accommodation outside the Hajj Transit Camp.
He further appealed to Federal Government to emulate the gesture so as to reduce their sufferings in the society.
As for now, the Hajj camp is free for the 2014 Hajj exercise as it will soon be handed over to Kaduna State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board to start preparation for Hajj operations.
As it is presently, the camp is in a dilapidated state and requires combined efforts of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the state government to put it in a good shape before the commencement of the Hajj exercise this year.