In a clime like ours fraught with several challenges as regards terrorist attacks, especially by the Boko Haram, which have claimed several lives and destroyed properties worth billions of naira, one expects the government to not only preoccupy itself with securing the people and their environment, but also attending to the needs of victims of security lapses.
Since Boko Haram insurgency reared its ugly head in the North East of the country, coupled with the herdsmen/farmers clash, the country has never been the same, as it has been in trauma going by the series of terrorist attacks which have apparently rocked its foundation. Nevertheless, one still finds no explanation as to why the government should allow victims of these ugly situations to rot in their misfortune.
Just recently, the African Independent Television (AIT) featured victims of Nyanya bomb blast in Lagos, recounting their ordeals. Surprisingly, many of the victims have continued to struggle for survival having been abandoned to their fate by the government.
Mojeed Alabi, a reporter with the TV station, who was in Abuja, had once reported that the victims’ situation was worsened by a revelation that the N98 million contributed for their care or upkeep had been diverted to private pockets.
A victim, Halidu Ibrahim, confirmed this fear as he said: “It is not easy. My family is in Katsina and since I cannot farm with my condition, I need to do something. If I have money, I could do business but those who took our details and promised to give us money since 2014, have refused to give us anything. I still go for check-up till today and I buy my drugs without anyone helping me.”
Like Halidu Ibrahim, Modu Mary, 28, had since the incident, been permanently confined to her home. She said: “Today, I cannot afford to pay for my drugs and many people who had been helping me are also complaining that things are tough”.
More pathetic is the fact that every amount spent on some of the victims’ health was raised by their families for which some of their personal belongings were said to have been sold in the process.
Terrorism, we know, has obviously become a recurring decimal in Nigeria. Principal amongst the challenges it raises is the sudden increase in the number of internally-displaced persons, which has risen by what mathematicians refer to as ‘geometric progression’. The consequences of these ugly situations on the Nigerian state and its peoples are, indeed, profound and far-reaching.
Victims are daily exposed to physical, mental, emotional and financial harm, from which some hardly ever recover. In as much as these ones could be described as victims of circumstance, I think justice demands that we identify with their plight by providing aid just to alleviate their sufferings. However, in doing this, the quality of support services and care delivery the Nigerian government makes available, so as to provide the needed succour to these victims, is actually this writer’s concern.
According to Wahab Shittu, a Lagos-based lawyer, the need for a proper delineation of achievable standards upon which the Nigerian state can build its support system for victims of violent crimes, amongst others, has become apparent. This is because the Victims Support Fund (VSF) inaugurated by the immediate past federal administration has not been able to leave any visible results.
The efforts of the government, especially through the accomplishments of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), albeit laudable, have rather become the subject of pejorative and uncomplimentary comments in media circles. Several persons and advocacy groups have sought to know why the much-needed relief has not been proffered to the victims, who are the primary subjects of the VSF’s mandate, especially as it pertains to the needs of terror victims.
I think it is time the VSF was probed with a view to unraveling why victims are still crying wolf in spite of the measures put in place to address their condition.