14 September 2017

Nigeria: Benue IDPs Protest Against Diversion of Relief Materials

Makurdi — Thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the International Market, Makurdi, Benue State, on Tuesday prevented the alleged diversion of relief materials by camp officials.

The protest started when a truck, two Hilux vans, a bus and a saloon car loaded with relief materials from the camp warehouse, were about to drive out of the camp.

The protesters overpowered the security guards at the camp and blocked the camp entrance to prevent the vehicles from moving out with the materials.

The angry protesters reportedly accused camp officials of diverting the materials and abandoning them to die of hunger. Some of the IDPs claimed they were not given any food items "for the past three days".

It has not been confirmed where the items were being taken, as the drivers of the vehicles and their team members refused to disclose the information.

James Tarkende, an IDP, said: "When Governor Samuel Ortom and the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, visited us, they told us that nobody should divert materials out of the camp, that is why we are protesting.

"In this camp, only few people sleep on mattresses, but we are not complaining. We are suffering, but because of the situation at hand, we understand with the government. But the camp officials have gone too far this time. This is not the first time they are doing this; most times, they do it in the night."

The Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Joseph Utsev, said the state government would investigate the incident. The government had earlier on Monday removed the camp manager over allegations of irregularities.

Meanwhile, the governor of Imo State and chairman of the Progressive Governors' Forum, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, on behalf of the Rochas Foundation, yesterday announced a donation of N10 million to the flood victims in Benue.

Okorocha, accompanied by the Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, made the donation while addressing the Benue flood IDPs at the New Makurdi International Market Camp.

According to Okorocha, though he was in the state on behalf of the Progressive Governors' Forum, to get first hand information about the disaster, he was touched by the plight of the IDPs, particularly the children, and was moved to make the donation.

"When I was coming, I made my assessment on air and I saw how Benue is flooded, but my worry is if this rain continue for the next one week, I don't know what will become of the state. I, therefore, call for urgent action and some major step to be taken immediately to bring a permanent solution to the flood disaster," he said.

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