Sunday, 3 August 2014

How Ban On Vehicular Movement Marred Sallah In Maiduguri

Sallah celebration in the city of Maiduguri is fun because of the arrays of colourful activities lined up but this is not the case in the last Eid-el Fitrz celebration. Kareem Haruna, in Maiduguri writes that owing to insecurity in the state, the military authorities placed ban on movement of vehicles and persons thereby reducing the fun associated with the season.

Last weeks 72 hours ban of vehicular movement by the military in Maiduguri, Borno state capital, may have paid off in securing lives and property, but residents of the city cannot forget in a hurry how the ban made life unbearable during the last Sallah celebration.
On the eve of the Eid-el-Fitri, the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, issued an unsettling statement banning the use of vehicles for the entire days the ceremony would last.
The order forced residents to resort to trekking throughout the entire period that lasted beyond 72 hours.
According to the statement signed by the Deputy Director Defence Information, Colonel Muhammad Dole, the military had gathered intelligence report that terrorists had planned to detonate bombs during the celebrations especially at the Eid-el prayer grounds using all kinds of vehicles.
Although the ban was officially to take effect from Monday 28th July till 30th, the enforcement began midnight of 27th immediately the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Abubakar Saad announced 27th as Eid-el Fitri day. The reason adduced by the military was that the ban was to prevent Boko Haram members from carrying out their alleged plot.
In the wee hours of the morning of Sallah, soldiers had taken over the streets of Maiduguri by enforcing the order and forcing motorists to return home. Those that were not so lucky were asked to park their vehicles and made to proceed on their trip on foot or worst still return to their houses if their destination could not be reached on foot.
Apart from the state governor, Kashim Shetimma and the Shehu of Borno, His Eminence Abubakar Garbai Ibn Alamin Elkanemi whose vehicles were allowed to ply the roads to the Eid prayer grounds, every other person irrespective of age or status were forced to comply with the order thereby reducing the fun usually enjoyed during the celebration..
It is interesting to note that there are about 10 different Eid prayer grounds in Maiduguri from which residents can chose to observe their Eid prayers regardless of distances. It is a matter of fulfilling religious conviction. The truth however remained that fun was entirely lost.
LEADERSHIP Sunday took time to find out how residents celebrated the last Eid-el Fitri while holed up in their various localities.
It was observed that the number one casualty of the 72 hours ban was the governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima whose chief driver narrowly missed being killed by soldiers when a convoy pilot vehicle with armed policemen were asked to go and bring him to the government house so that he could drive the governor to the Eid-el prayer ground.
It was reported that when soldiers on patrol sighted the police convoy pilot vehicle approaching, they allegedly fired at the tyre of the vehicle which nearly caused the vehicle to skid off the road. This happened too late before the soldiers could realise that the vehicle was from the government house.
The second major casualty of the ban was His Eminence the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai Alamin Elkanemi. Due to the total restriction, the state emirate council could not stage its colourful durbar in line with its yearly colouration.
The palace, LEADERSHIP Sunday was informed, had put in place all arrangement to stage yet another grand durbar that would have, at least, put a smile on the faces of the beleaguered residents, and perhaps give them hope for the return of peace.
But sadly, His Royal Majesty had to put off the durbar despite all the arrangements in respect for the military order which he felt was in good faith in order to safeguard the lives of the people, said a palace official who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday.
Haruna Dauda Biu, a media practitioner and native of Borno state described the ban on vehicular movement as 72 hours of hell.
Continuing further, he said, I and my family usually observe our Eid prayer at the central ground, but we could not do that this time around because of the restriction on movement; the children cried all day because I had to leave them at home and trek to an Eid ground that I could access. After the prayer, I still could not take my family out to pay the usual Sallah homage to our parents and in-laws; it was very, very frustrating, said Biu.
To Yunusa Adamu, a civil servant, he said We were like prisoners for three days; I cannot imagine that I would stay locked up at home. This insurgency has brought torture to us and it is not sparing us in all aspect of our livelihood; if not, I have never imagined celebrating Sallah in the manner we did last week.
While many had lamented the pains of being restricted to their homes, others lamented the wastages of food they have spent so much money to prepare for the family, relations and friends.
If I had known that there would be no movement, I would not have spent so much money preparing food to entertain my people during the Sallah. It was so sad that I had to sit and watch my food go bad because there was no light to even power the freezer and preserve the food. On the second day we had to drag the coolers of food out for disposal, said Hajia Laraba, a business woman and housewife.
Abba Ibrahim, a private security operative was very angry with the Boko Haram for making him spent his hard earned salary on food that later became wasted.
We have no grudge against the soldiers action as much as they meant to protect our lives; but my anger over the waste of my food which no one came to eat in my house goes to the Boko Haram who had brought this to us, he said.
Many residents of Maiduguri who claimed ignorance of the order said they were forced to stay at home without making provisions for what they would have used to sustain themselves during the period of restriction.
I did not watch the TV on Saturday evening because we had no electricity in our area in Bulumkutu, and that was the case with my neighbours, said Mallam Musa, a staff of the University of Maiduguri. I did not expect that Eid would be Sunday, hence my plan was to go and get things for Sallah on that day only to be turned back by soldiers that I could not move with my car; I had to trek from Dalori quarters to TashanBama, about 7km to get chicken for my family before I later trekked another 4km from my house to the University of Maiduguri Eid prayer ground. It was even terrible for me because I allowed my children to accompany me to the prayer ground; it was really strenuous seeing people sweating it out under scorching sun on that day, he said.
Most pathetic was the sight of children who had waited for 30 days to enjoy yet another day when Maiduguri would come out of its scare shell to openly celebrate. But on the three days of vehicular ban, these kids were seen dragging their feets, some totally fagged out as a result of long hours of treks just to take their Sallahvisits to their grand parents, uncles or relatives in another neighbourhood.
The 72 hours ban on vehicular movement did not only affect the Muslims in Maiduguri alone as even Christian were badly affected also. As Sallah was celebrated on Sunday, most Christians too suffered similar fate. Most of them were seen going to their respective churches at the same time the Muslims were filing out on foot to Eid prayer grounds.
LEADERSHIP Sunday observed that most churches could no also hold their Sunday services as a result of the ban.
We could not hold our Sunday service that day, said Mr. Timothy Ola, a media practioner. Many people could not find their ways to the church because of lack of vehicles on the roads; so we had to remain at home. Others who managed to get to the church also made their trip to and fro on foot. Some of our elders who tried that could not come out of their homes on Monday because of fatigue.
Beside the local residents, even those in the media industry were not left out in the lamentation.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that most radio and TV houses could not operate in the city because staff were not exempted from the ban even though they were supposed to be on essential services.
An incident that was to be aired by the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) was frustrated because the staff members with the video clip of the governors Eid prayer were prevented by soldiers on patrol who did not only stop them but forcefully took the key from them and asked them to trek back to their homes.
It took the intervention of the Military Spokesman at the headquarters of the 7 Division, Col Muhammed Dole to rescue the journalists from the angry soldiers.
The situation had moved many including the Borno state governor to near tears considering the gruesome pains residents were made to go through for no fault of theirs all in the name of averting yet another Boko Haram attack.
In a statement personally signed by him, Governor Shettima empathized with the people going through that terrible moments at a time they were supposed to be celebrating.
While we were driving from the Government House to the Eid ground earlier, I was highly traumatized on seeing our parents, Uncles, wives, daughters, sons and younger brothers and sisters trekking under the scotching sun in an attempt to observe a very important spiritual rite which is the Eid prayers; on the same day, we have our Christian brothers and sisters who had to trek in the same harsh condition to attend their church services, , said Shettima..
These people have committed no crime at all other than trooping out as devoted worshippers seeking the favour of Allah.
At some point, I was even contemplating whether we should drop from the vehicle convoy to walk with these innocent sons and daughters of Borno who were going through pains on a day they should be excited. My security details would simply not let me walk based on their own professional decisions that I have no power to question.
As we approached the Eid ground, I noticed that churches were closed which denied Christian worshippers, as well, from practicing their religious rites.
The security agencies took the painful decision of keeping vehicles off the road in order to safeguard the lives of the innocent citizens who are always the major victims of Boko Haram attacks.
We thank Allah that no live is lost throughout this Sallah festival and beyond it. It is our greatest hope that no innocent live is ever lost again under man made courses.
I want to empathize with the people of Borno state for the pains they have had to go through during thisSallah celebration. I empathize with Muslims and Christians whose rights to freely and comfortably drive to their places of worship were curtailed in the overall interest of their individual safety and that of the State.
I am very much aware that there are those of our citizens who only get what to feed themselves and their families after going out everyday either as traders, transporters or artisans, I know that the restriction of vehicular movement would greatly impede on their source of livelihood. But we all have to be alive before we can do anything at all. The decision was a painful one for them as it is for me as a leader. I share the pains of everyone in the state.
As we celebrate this Sallah, there are many of our parents, brothers and sisters who have lost their homes owing to attacks inspired by the Boko Haram. Many of them have become refugees in different camps here in Maiduguri, Biu, Askira/Uba and host of other places. Our brothers and sisters have been sacked in Damboa, Marte, Askira/Uba and many other areas.
We will stand by our people no matter the situation. We should pour not just our heart to these innocent sons and daughter of Borno, but we should extent our material support to them as the government is already doing and will continue to do. I am aware that some individuals have offered personal support, this is very commendable.
We are very much committed to search for peace. We are actively and passionately collaborating with all stakeholder to share effort and resources toward fining an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.
I thank our security agencies for their proactive efforts despite the pains we have to go through. I very much commend our youth volunteers under the civilian JTF for their sacrifices, discipline and commitment. We all saw how they cordoned the Eid ground. I thank the good people of Borno State for their tremendous support to this administration and insha Allah we will not let them down. We are working round the clock, we will reclaim peace by Allahs will.
Post a Comment