Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Flood Victims Protest Eviction From Camps in Bayelsa

Thousands of flood-displaced persons in relief camps in the Bayelsa capital, Yenagoa, on Thursday protested their eviction from the camps by the State Government.

The Deputy Governor of Bayelsa, Chief John Jonah, who is the Chairman, state Emergency Flood Management Committee, had on Nov. 14 ordered the immediate closure of the camps.

The State Government in its determination to return the victims back to their respective communities had provided buses at the camps on Thursday to return them home.

At the Bishop Dimeri Grammar School (BDGS) relief camp, Ovom, Yenagoa, which served as State camp 2, many flood victims, mostly women and youths, chanted anti-Dickson slogans.

They accused the government of insensitivity.

The victims, who gathered their households outside, resisted a combined team of soldiers and mobile policemen who were deployed by the State Government to the camp to ease the eviction process. Mr Boro Friday, the Secretary of the flood victims at the camp, condemned the decision of the State Government to evict them without recourse to their state of helplessness.

"How do they want us to go home without any form of support? No food, no money.

How are we going to start all over when we get to our homes?" he queried.

Boro said that the victims had expected the State Government to provide them with some money to enable them take care of their immediate needs when they get home.

Another victim, Madam Dora Perewari, said that asking them to go home without any assistance was unacceptable.

She also said it was a demonstration of the State Government's lack of compassion for the flood victims.

"They want to force us out of the camps without any support. We will not take it because this government has no compassion for us.

"They should at least give us some money and food stuff. How do we cope when we get home"?

The Camp Coordinator, Dr Duonebiyah Udisi, waved aside the complaints of the victims, saying that government had done its best to assist them throughout their stay in the camps.

"I have done what best I can do to present the demands of the people to the government.

"Government on its part, had done its best, we are not evicting them with force as being claimed, we are only encouraging them to return home," he said.

The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Markson Fefegha, told newsmen in his office that those protesting were touts and hoodlums who had hijacked the camp.

"The genuine victims even wrote to us saying they want to return home and I can tell you that many of them have since returned home.

"How can people who said they want to go turn around to protest the closure of the camps? Many lazy people have taken over the camps.

"They want to remain there even when it is obvious that the flood had receded in the communities," Fefegha said.

He said that the State Government had made up its mind to close the camps and relocate the victims back home.

He also accused the camp coordinators of registering fictitious names to swell the number of victims in the camps. NAN

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