29 March 2014

Nigeria: Benue Suspects Chemical Attack in 200 Deaths

George Okoh The recent series of attack on Benue Communities by Fulani Herdsmen is beginning to take its toll on displaced persons due to the crises even as the Commissioner for Information, Justine Amase disclosed that over 200 people were killed with substance suspected to be chemical weapons

According to him, some bodies of those killed were taken for medical examination and it was discovered that there was no gun shot or harm to the bodies.

"This led us to suspect that some chemicals were used and to compound the issue the bodies of some of the victim were set on fire to destroy any evidence", he said.

According to him, the Commissioner for health has taken up the issue and has sent sample of some of the victim to a world class laboratory for further investigation.

Investigations by THISDAY revealed that despite the effort of the Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NAMA) to provide relief materials for those displaced in camps, life is turning out to be unbearable for them as child illness like malaria measles and diarrhoea have continued to ravage the camps.

Another worrisome development in the camps is said to be the issue of open defecation due to lack of adequate toilet facilities for the inmates who has exposed the IDPs to air and water borne diseases.

One of the displaced persons, who gave her name as Mrs. Elizabeth Terngu said she lost her three months old baby two days ago after the baby suddenly developed constant stooling and vomiting.

She said, "I had my baby just five days before the Fulanis sacked us from our homes, one week after getting here, I noticed she started stooling and vomiting. I started giving her drugs but days later she died.

"Apart from my baby, about ten other children and babies have also died in the last few days within this our area", she wept. At the LGEA primary school, North Bank and LGEA primary school Ichwa, several illnesses were discovered to be affecting the displaced persons.

According to one John Ternenwge "In the last one week, we have lost over 5 children and elderly people in this camp, in fact four days ago, some persons died here at Ichwa on the same day. We also heard that we have lost several of our relatives at the LGEA primary school", he said.

Meantime, two days ago, the Chairman of the Benue Network of Non Governmental Organisations, BENGONET, Mr. James Gbagir, lamented on state radio that the condition in the camps were fast deteriorating.

Gbagir said, "apart from the poor condition and the overpopulated camps, the security of the camps also leaves much to be desired."

Speaking on the development, Amase debunked reports that people were dying in the camps.

He said, "I know that the Commissioner of Health and his team have taken it upon themselves to ensure that medical and other services were rendered to the displaced persons in the camps; though I would not say nobody died but the truth is that some of the deaths may not be connected to poor condition in the camps."

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