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26.01.2024 Opinion

Executive Chairman Of Wukari Local Government Council, Hon. Samaila Daudu Blocking TIV Refugees' Return

By Citizen John Akevi
Executive Chairman Of Wukari Local Government Council, Hon. Samaila  Daudu Blocking TIV Refugees' Return
26.01.2024 LISTEN

The controversy over the idea of Tiv refugees "right of return" is an open wound: painful and problematic as it is for Hon. Daudu Samaila, the Executive Chairman of Wukari Local Government Council. Hon. Samaila failure to respect the "right of return" of tens of thousands of Tiv refugees who were forced to flee their homes since 2019 is a flagrant violation of international law that has fuelled years of suffering on a mass scale for Tiv refugees in Wukari Local Government Area.

Almost four years after the conflict, the Tiv refugees who were forced out of their homes and dispossessed of their land as a result continue to face devastating consequences. Many are dead, many have been forced to live their lives in overcrowded camps in dire conditions and are denied access to essential services.

Tiv refugees in Wukari Local Government Council are trapped in a cycle of deprivation and systematic discrimination with no end in sight. For many of them, life is full of suffocating restrictions and has become a living hell.The situation for Tiv refugees is untenable and grows closer to breaking point with every year that passes. How much longer can Tiv refugees be expected to be condemned to a life of suffering, deprivation and discrimination simply because of their origin?

These refugees are not “dreaming” of returning home, they have a right to do so. Their "right of return" is specifically stated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948, which has been approved annually by the UN General Assembly as well as by other international bodies.

A key obstacle has been the failure of the Executive Chairman of Wukari Local Government Council, Hon. Daudu Samaila, to fulfill its responsibilities towards Tiv refugees in Wukari Local Government Council as enlisted in the numerous UN resolutions adopted since 1948. Unable to return to their homes, thousands of Tiv refugees in Wukari Local Government Area have been forcibly exiled in neighbouring states.

The reason why the return of Tiv refugees to their homes of origin could be considered “unrealistic” is because the Chairman of Wukari Local Government Council, Hon. Daudu Samaila enjoys complete impunity for his illegal actions and bears no consequences for its continuous denial of Tiv refugees’ "right of return". It is not a matter of space, geography, or logistics, but rather politics: the unwillingness of the Council Chairman to recognize and realize the rights of Tiv refugees.

There can be no lasting solution to the Tiv refugee crisis until the Chairman of Wukari Local Government Council, Mr. Samaila respects Tiv refugees’ "right of return". In the meantime, Governor Agbu Kefas must do everything in his power to minimize the suffering of Tiv refugees by repealing discriminatory laws and the Governor should also remove Daudu Samaila from office as the Executive Chairman of Wukari Local Government Council. Mr. Samaila is an obstacle blocking Tiv refugees from returning to their ancestral land.

The writer is therefore, appealing to the Nigerian Government, Governor Agbu Kefas, of its obligation to provide protection and seek durable solutions for Tiv refugees in Wukari Local Government Council. We are also reminding the international community that the right to reparations, including return, of Tiv refugees is an internationally recognized right and that Tiv refugees in Wukari Local Government Area denial of return is not only illegal but fuels further displacement in light of the lack of accountability for its actions.

If Taraba State government genuinely care about ending the Tiv refugee issue in Wukari Local Government Council, they should start by ensuring respect for international law, ensuring the realization of the basic rights of everyone involved, including Tiv refugees, and putting an end to the ongoing violations of such rights.

Citizen John Akevi,
Bauchi State,
Nigeria.

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