The United Nations office in Nigeria is angry with the Army for sending soldiers to raid its Maiduguri office on Friday morning.
Armed soldiers from Operation Lafiya Dole stormed the building popularly called Red Roof at about 5:00 a.m. ostensibly in search of “high profile Boko Haram leaders.”
The property owned by a former governor of Borno State, the late Mala Kachalla, currently serves as a hostel for UN humanitarian aid personnel.
Within minutes of the raid, rumour spread across the country on the “arrest” of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.
The rumour was later dismissed.
UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, called the raid unauthorized.
The Spokesman for United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Samantha Newport, quoted Kallon as expressing “grave concern over the unauthorized search of a United Nations base for humanitarian workers in Maiduguri, Borno State.”
He said: “At circa 0500 hours today (yesterday), members of the Nigerian security forces entered the UN base for humanitarian workers in Maiduguri without authorization. The security forces carried out a search of the tented camp and left the area at circa 0800 hours.
“The United Nations does not have any information at this time regarding the reason or motivations for the unauthorized search. The Humanitarian Coordinator is working closely with the Government of Nigeria to resolve this issue.
“The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east is one of the most severe in the world today. I am extremely concerned that these actions could be detrimental to the critical work that is being carried out every day to support the most vulnerable in the region and I call upon the Government of Nigeria to provide clarification.
“The United Nations and more than 50 non-governmental humanitarian organisations are working in support of the Government of Nigeria to provide aid, including food, safe water and medicine, to some 6.9 million people in need in the northeast.”
The Army confirmed that its men indeed conducted a cordon and search operation on the building but said it received “alert on high profile Boko Haram members.”
Spokesperson for 7 Division of the Army, Lt. Col. Samuel Kingsley, said: “As part of ongoing counter insurgency operations, the Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE has been conducting several clearance as well as cordon and search operations in urban and rural areas within the Theatre. The clearance operations effort has been yielding several successes.”
‘It is disingenuous to accuse everyone who calls for restructuring as trying to break up the county. History tells us that that kind of cheap blackmail will not work as long as the underlying reasons for the agitations persist.’
‘The biggest challenge seems to be that we seem to be allowing moderate voices on this issue to be drowned out by the reckless utterances of a few rabble rousers on all sides who may be tools in the hands of those who do not wish this country well. These are some of the people who arrogate to themselves the toga of spokespersons of our diverse groups.’
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