Army Shuts Down Mercy Corps’ Offices In North-east – Report
The Nigerian army on Wednesday shut down the offices of Mercy Corps, an international non-governmental organisation rendering humanitarian services in Borno and Yobe.
This is barely five days after it shut the office of Action Against Hunger (AAH) in Damaturu, Yobe state capital, over allegations of providing aid to Boko Haram.
“Mercy Corps is suspending operations in Borno and Yobe States, Nigeria, following the closure of four of our field offices by the Nigerian military,” the NGO said in a statement.
According to TheCable, the army has not given any reason for its action but that the closure may be connected to the “belief that some NGOs sponsor the insurgents”.
The report said the problem started when the army intercepted a vehicle conveying some contractors who were on their way to purchase items for internally-displaced persons (IDPs) on behalf of Mercy Corps.
“One of their workers (Mercy Corps) called me this morning that the army has shut down their offices,” he said.
“Based on my findings, there are some contractors who supply Mercy Corps with items that they distribute to IDPs. So they paid them to provide supplies for IDPs in Damboa, and they went to Adamawa state to cash the money sent.
“On their way, along Damboa, the army intercepted their bus. They asked them what they had in the vehicle …they saw a cylinder in the vehicle, the one used by welders…. So they asked them why they had the cylinder and they replied that it belongs to a man in Damboa.
“The military then searched the vehicle and as they were searching it, they saw the cash, which was about N29million and they asked the contractors how they had such an amount of money. They replied that they are contractors and that normally every month when they pay them; they cash the money, put it in cartons and go to the market to get the supplies for Mercy Corps to give to IDPs.
“But the army did not agree to what they had said. They said, ‘such an amount of money being conveyed without escorts?’ That they don’t believe them.
“They also had sticks belonging to the battalion in Damboa, and the driver of the vehicle also had ATM cards of some soldiers with him. Some of the soldiers don’t travel. So they give their ATM cards to drivers to withdraw cash for them. He showed these to the army so that they would believe them.
“But the impression the army now has is that anybody working with an NGO is a sponsor of Boko Haram, which is not so.”