Samantha Newport, a spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said: “Members of the Nigerian security forces entered a United Nations base for humanitarian workers in Maiduguri … without authorisation.”
The security forces, who arrived at about 5 a.m., “carried out a search of the camp and left at about 0800 hours,” she said, adding that at the time the UN had no information on the reason for the unauthorised search.
“The United Nations is extremely concerned that these actions could be detrimental to the delivery of lifesaving aid to the millions of vulnerable people in the northeast of Nigeria…The UN’s top representative in Nigeria, the humanitarian coordinator, is communicating with the government about the incident.” Newport said.
The United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, Edward Kallon, expressed grave concern over the unauthorized search of a UN base for humanitarian workers by security forces in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“The humanitarian situation 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.”
Nigeria’s military said it had searched the UN compound and at least 30 other properties because a source told the army that members of militants were hiding in the area.
The military also said in its statement that “the property did not carry a UN designation,” and the operation “was successfully concluded but no arrest was made because the suspects were not found.”
A Nigerian presidency spokesman declined to comment, saying the incident was a military issue. Many Nigerian politicians and aid workers say privately they are skeptical of some of the military’s statements.
Last month, the army said it had rescued all members of an oil survey team abducted by militants and said nine soldiers and a civilian were killed. The University of Maiduguri refuted the Army claims, saying the army sent it dead bodies of oil workers instead. It later emerged that at least 37 people were killed including oil workers and soldiers. The Army later apologized for what it called “errors” saying it had recovered more dead bodies of oil workers and soldiers.