A little 4-year-old boy has been so traumatized by Boko Haram that even the mere sight of motorcycles gives him terror.
A 4-year-old victim of Boko Haram insurgency in North East Nigeria, Alkassim Muhammad, fled from Bama in Borno State to Kaduna State. It takes about 10 hours to drive the 817 km from Borno to Kaduna.
The kid is believed to have trekked for weeks, or even months, to cover that distance. Muhammad is among 72 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) currently at a camp in Maraban Jos, along Kaduna-Zaria road.
The boy is so traumatized by his experience with the Boko Haram that he runs and hides whenever he sees or hears the sound of a motorcycle.
He cries “Boko Haram! Boko Haram! Boko Haram!” each time he catches a glimpse of a motorcycle, his handlers at the IDPs camp said.
Muhammad was noticed by journalists when the Chairman, Kaduna State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Garba Muhammad, accompanied by other journalists, visited the camp recently to donate food items.
Rabi Ibrahim, founder of Arrrida Relief Foundation Nigeria, established the camp, including a primary school within it, for people like little Muhammad who were victims of the insurgency.
Ms. Ibrahim converted the houses she inherited from her late mother into the camp. She said Muhammad was in Boko Haram’s captivity for eight months, and that the boy had witnessed the slaughter of adults and children.
“Up till now his two sisters are still in Boko Haram captivity. His father died of heart attack when he got tired of running from Boko Haram during several attacks on their Bama community in Borno State,” she said.
Most children in the camp, some of them between the ages of two and 10 years, were said to have trekked through thick forest for seven days, without food or water. They reportedly survived by drinking each other’s urine, before they were discovered.
“Many of them were brought to the camp very sick, and there is no week that will pass by without us taking them to Garden City hospital, Kaduna for treatment of one ailment or the other,” Ms. Ibrahim said.
“Just recently, our coordinators asked us to send N2, 000 for transportation to Kaduna for a 10-year-old whose parents were killed in Bama, and her extended family and relatives rejected her due to their severe poverty level.
“Our major challenge is lack of food and funds for the basic educational needs of these innocent kids. I can cater for 1,000 for three months if I have access to at least N1million.
“I have ejected tenants in another house in Maraban Jos which I also inherited from my mother. The houses used to generate over N1 million income. (But) I had to forfeit it, and turned the place to hostel for some of IDPs who were sleeping in make-shift tents under the bridges,” she said.
Ms. Ibrahim thanked NUJ for the visit, and appealed to other Nigerians and government officials to visit IDP camps so as to give a sense of belonging to many persons that are traumatized.
“Even though I prefer children because I have only vacancy for nursery and primary school, but I still cater for adults, youths and orphans, especially those affected by past crises in Kaduna.
“We don’t call it orphanage or IDP camp, we call it children school. My own two little children also attend, sleep and eat in the same room and bowl with the other kids.
“My husband has been a support and encouragement, despite his critical health challenge, and I remain very grateful to him,” she added.
She said a carton of noodles is usually cooked for a single day for the kids, while a bag of rice lasts for four days, supplemented with beans and spaghetti.
“We spend N2,000 on water at school, everyday, because we do not have the funds to construct borehole,” she said.
The NUJ Chairman, Mr. Muhammad, while presenting the food items, said Ms. Ibrahim was “a woman with big heart who needs the support and encouragement of everyone to provide care for the IDPs.”
Mr. Muhammad said attention should also be given to similar camps at Rigasa, Kauta village, Barakallahu, and Gadan Gayan.
He commended the military and other security agencies for their resolve to fight insecurity in the country.