Recurring Fire Outbreaks at IDP Camps: Borno Police Nab Suspects


By: Zagazola Makama


The Borno Police Command have arrested at least four suspects for deliberately causing  fire outbreaks in Borno Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) camps.


There has been a series of recurring fire incidents in Maiduguri, Monguno, Mafa and Gubio, atleast 15 incidents within the past four years, which has resulted in the loss of life and immeasurable losses to the displaced persons who had already suffered the brunt of the 13 years insurgency in the state. 


It has become a normal routine for IDPs Camps in Borno to be  gutted by fire  especially during the harmattan period. It was earlier suspected that the IDPs were allegedly  setting their camps on fire in order to get government attention due to hunger and poor living conditions, while on the other hand SEMA blamed the IDPs for not being cautious against the use of fire while cooking. 


But things took another twist On March 24, 2024, at about 1013hrz, when three suspects were apprehended in an attempt to set a house ablaze in Mafa local governments area.


Sources told Zagazola Makama  that one Bulama Mante in company of Baba Kachallah Dukje, a hunter from Mafa LGA apprehended three of the suspects;  Mallum Usman, Bulama Bukar Kuri,  Rawa Usman,all from Mafa IDPs camp and handed over to the police.


They were arrested with matches while trying to set a house ablaze.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the trio were behind many of the recurrence fire incidents at IDPs camp within the state.


The suspects confessed that they were  contracted by a firewood vendor, one Babagana Dikwa, 40 years old of Muna IDPs camp, who gave them N10,000 to set fire in places.


They also confessed to be responsible for several fire incidents recorded in Muna, Gubio, and Monguno IDPs camp. It is believed that when they burnt IDPs camp, they will gain unimaginable wealth in the future depending on the damages inflicted by the fire. 

NGO's Paid Us to put fire in IDPs camp


Meanwhile, another suspect was apprehended suspected to be responsible for causing the recent  fire in Monguno IDPs camp.  


The suspect who appeared in a viral video alleged that he was contracted by two Non Government Organisations providing humanitarian services in Borno to set fire in Internally Displaced Persons camps in the state.


The suspects who were arrested by Civilian JTF, said that he was among the four people those engaged by the NGOs (names withheld) to carry out several arson in different camps and were paid N10,000 once the Job is done.


Zagazola could independently verify the allegations made by the suspect against the NGOs. 


We Have Not Concluded Involvement of Any NGOs in setting fire in Camps- Police


Responding, Borno Police Commissioner, Yusuf Lawal, who confirmed the arrest of four  suspects who were currently at the Command's crime investigative units, said it was yet to be substantiated if NGOs were involved.


Lawal said that there were two incidents; one of them was recorded in Monguno where a suspect was recorded in a video claiming that he was contracted by two NGOs to carry out arson and another one in Mafa where three people were arrested in connection with the same crime.


“We are yet to establish if the two incidents were related but those we arrested have already confessed that they were contracted by a fire wood seller in the Muna general area to set fire in places. We have arrested him and are currently undergoing investigation at the Crime Investigation Department,”he said.


The Police Commissioner warned people against spreading unsubstantiated rumors noting that the police will investigate the matter and make it known to the general public. 


Borno Govt. Summoned NGOs for preliminary interrogation.


Prof. Usman Tar, Commissioner of Information and Internal Security said the  Government has received reports  from reliable sources regarding suspected cases of fire outbreaks in some IDP camps within the State. 


Tar said this recent rise in frequency of infernos in IDP camps has been a matter of concern, and all hands are on deck to forestall any further occurrence of fire outbreaks in the State. The Government has been investigating the occurrence of the infernos on a case-by-case basis, with a view to establishing the remote and extant causes, and developing a strategy to stem future occurrence.


“On 29 March 2024, the Ministry of Information and Internal Security received a report in which a suspect admitted that he and his "co-conspirators" were "hired" by some NGOs (names withheld) to set IDP camps on fire. 


“This matter is under investigation and further necessary action shall only be taken on the basis of the outcome of the investigation. Those arrested are in detention undergoing intensive interrogation, while the NGOs who were pinpointed in the alleged violent practice have been summoned for preliminary interrogation.


The Government assures members of the public that this matter will receive appropriate and expedited attention, and any culprit will be dealt with according to the law. 


“Meanwhile, members of the public are urged to be calm, peaceful and law-abiding. Any breach of security should be reported to the nearest law enforcement agency or traditional rulers for transmission to the relevant authority,”he said.

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