Borno State Government, on Wednesday, said 5,000 Nigerians, who fled to Cameroon due to insurgency, have been repatriated.
Cameroonian officials, led by the Minister for Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, handed over the first batch of the refugees to Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum on Monday at a brief ceremony in Amchiide, a border community close to Banki, Bama Local Government Area, Borno State.
A statement signed by the special adviser to the governor on public relations and strategy, Malam Isa Gusau, said the returnees were part of thousands of Nigerians, mostly from Borno, who, since 2014, had fled in batches to Minawao Camp located in Mokolo, far North Region of Cameroon, to escape killings.
Many Nigerians, in uncertain numbers, though said to be more than 60,000 by some accounts, fled to the camp from parts of Borno and Adamawa States. But over the years, the number came down following isolated returns.
The refugees are being returned even as the Boko Haram insurgents are still attacking communities in the state.
The insurgents recently attacked the state capital, Maiduguri, where a number of residents were killed.
The handover ceremony of the returnees was attended by top officials from Cameroon, including the governor of the far North Region, Midjiyawa Bakary and officials of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
The Cameroonian Minister for Territorial Administration announced that President Paul Biya had approved a big relief package which included food items, mattresses, blankets and other non-food items for distribution to all the refugees.
Meanwhile, Governor Zulum is constructing over 6,000 urban and low-cost houses sited in Banki, Gwoza, Kondugu, Kaga and other locations, with a substantial number of them already completed.
The majority of them were used for the resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons.
Also, the Borno State Government has distributed food items and money to the returnees.
Male spouses were each given N30,000 while each woman was given N10,000 and a fabric.
The Commissioners for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Engr. Mustapha Gubio; Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Sugun Mai Mele; and a former Commissioner for Housing and Energy, Babagana Tijjani Banki, were part of Zulum’s delegation.
The repatriation was the outcome of a tripartite commission meeting held in Marwa, Cameroon, on February 10, 2021, which was attended by officials from Cameroon, the UNHCR and a Nigerian delegation that comprised Governor Zulum and top officials from federal ministries of Foreign Affairs, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs as well as Zulum’s Special Adviser on Monitoring and Evaluation, who chairs a technical committee on the repatriation, Engr. Lawan Abba Wakilbe.