This is coming five days after the army shut down 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.
A source who also confirmed the incident to TheCable said 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”.
According to the source, 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 that supply Mercy Corps with items that they supply to IDPs. So they have paid the people to continue with their supplies to IDPs in Damboa, and they went to Adamawa state to cash the money sent, so that they can continue their purchase in the market.
“On their way, along Damboa, military intercepted their bus. The military asked them what they had in the vehicle …they also 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, they saw the cash, which was about N29million and they asked them how they had such an amount of money. They replied that they are contractors; normally every month when they pay them, they cash the money, put it inside cartons and go to market to get the supplies for Mercy Corps give to IDPs.
“But the military 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 to the 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 NGO, they think they are sponsors of Boko Haram which is not so.”