Nigerians flee to Cameroon

2012-02-09 13:10

Fotokol - Nigerians have fled in droves to neighbouring Cameroon to escape violence claimed by the Islamist Boko Haram group and revenge attacks by Christians.

"Everybody is insecure in Nigeria. The fear is all-pervading," said a Nigerian Christian priest, speaking on condition of anonymity, in Fotokol, a Cameroonian border town where dozens have taken shelter in the last few weeks.

It is located about 100km from the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the bastion of the shadowy Boko Haram sect which has been blamed for a slew of terror attacks that have sowed panic in Africa's most populous nation.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

Boko Haram has claimed to be fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria's north, but its demands have varied.

"Many Nigerians like myself have fled their villages in the south. We feel secure in Cameroon," the priest said in Fotokol.

"That is why I am sheltered here," he added.

He has rented a house which is about 10 minutes by motorcycle to the nearest town in Nigeria, Gamboru Ngala, where he heads the local Catholic church.

Scores of bomb attacks

It is difficult to gauge the exact number of Nigerians who have fled to Cameroon as they cross the border illegally, but there are easily dozens sheltered here since the attacks and tit-for-tat ripostes by Christians.

Mahamat Tujani, a Muslim trader from Maiduguri, fled to Kousseri near Fotokol.

"I abandoned my business and my family to seek refuge at the home of my cousin," a Cameroonian, he said. "I escaped out of fear."

He hoped to return home soon, he said, "but if the killings continue, I will bring over my family members here".

Boko Haram has been blamed for scores of bomb attacks in Nigeria's Muslim-dominated north. It claimed responsibility for January 20 coordinated bombings and shootings in Nigeria's second-largest city of Kano that left at least 185 people dead - Boko Haram's deadliest attack yet.

The August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in the capital Abuja which killed at least 25 people was also attributed to the group.

"When you scent danger, you must escape," the priest said.

"Even in the Gospel, the Lord says the moment you sense danger, you must escape. If you don't it's suicide," he said.

"Return to God"

The priest said two Christians from the mainly Christian Igbo ethnic group were killed in Mobi in Adamawa state about three weeks ago.

"When the other Igbos went to reclaim their bodies the Boko Haram struck and killed 29 others," he said.

Sectarian violence has been rising since elections in July last year. He urged both Christians and Muslims to "return to God".

The priest said Muslims were also targeted by Boko Haram. Between January 28 and 30, three people - including a Muslim - were killed in Gamboru Ngala, Nigerian and Cameroonian police and medical sources said.

The priest was following an Africa Cup of Nations match on television at a bar, along with six other compatriots. In another room, eight other Nigerians sat, drinking.

  • abongilevalent.jaza - 2012-02-09 13:56

    This is very bad, when will Africans stop this civil war as it takes away hundreds & hundreds of innocent lives, this must really come 2 an end!!!! we got our cintinent back 4rm colonisation, yet we still fight for kno gud sense, it breakes my heart 2 c lives being wasted like ths!

      David Olaolu James - 2012-02-09 14:30

      Its so heartbreaking to see this ills and chaos in Nigeria....we still haven't learnt our lesson as a nation. May we not experience war.

      Rainbow - 2012-02-09 14:31

      It is the african way, it has been for centuries. Wont be long beofore the same Nigerians will be flooding our border too.

  • Idris Saleh - 2012-02-09 14:44

    The information abaut mohammed Tijani is a lie,he has left nigeria since araund thirty yrs he only came bak to nigeria for health reason,and yes nigerians indigin of maiduguri are fleeing cos they feel insecure wen even the soldgers flee on hering Gun shorts,wish is all a trik by them even u d journalist are nt doing ur jobs u lie is cosing more harms to massis u dont investigate on story bt write on propaganders,shame on u jounalist u are failurs,to us

  • Nibras Muhammad - 2012-02-09 14:53

    Hmmm. Wats wrong with this nigerian govt? Why wont they run an investigetion on this issue? who are this bokoharam's? We need to know them... Nigerian govt announced the arrest of there spokemen, then where is he now? This is absolutely rubbish...... Are the Govt weak that they cannot even take care of her own citizens life and property? What kind of Govt is this?

      DuToitCoetzee - 2012-02-09 15:31

      Maybe you can then tell us who this "Nigerian government" is and who "Bokoharams" is? You made the statement that "This is all rubbish" as if you know. Please enlighten us. As far as I know there are aggressiveness from Muslim groups for a long time and the south also have a bad record indicating to corruption. What I know is that people get killed and it is 99% or more Christians. Normal people that is not in government. I also know that Christians fled the northern part because of action against them. It is also well known and stated that the northern part wants to kick out the country's law and replace it by a religion law. Aggressors of the same religion, that criticize the Crusades, do what some Crusaders used as an excuse to go on Crusades. Seeing that you, through your way of commenting, claiming to know more we would love it if you can enlighten us.

  • Joseph - 2012-02-09 17:59


  • cecilia.benchukwuma - 2012-02-09 18:27

    News 24 or whatever you call yourselves, shame on you. you are not journalists but sensationalists. Even before the boko haram menace Nigerians have been crossing the border to Cameroon and vice versa people from the East or southern parts will rather go back home than to cross over to Cameroon. There are of course a be few who would want to live in Cameroon but I can assure you they are not in their thousands as your story tends to portray, we as Nigerians who live in Nigeria are not crossing the border in the dozens to Cameroon. We do not like what Boko haram is doing to our country and our people but we are not fleeing as your story tends go portray. Please you cannot interview one or two people and conclude that Nigerians are fleeing the country. Please always research your story and try to give us balanced reports at all times.

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