INHUMANITY: Bayelsa Flood Committee fails to account for N2 billion grant, evicts flood victims from camps
Published:17 Nov, 2012
The committee, headed by the deputy governor of the state, Rear Admiral John Jonah (retd.), had ordered the victims to leave the camps and go back to their communities.
But the displaced persons accused the committee members of working at variance with the promises of the government to resettle them.
Most of them insisted that they would not leave their camps because they had no place to go.
They asked the committee to account for the N2bn budgeted by the government and the relief materials donated by people and companies for the management of the disaster.
They insisted that members of the committee had exploited their plight to enrich themselves.
Most of the victims, who decried the development, wondered why the committee should ask them to go home without any financial assistance.
They claimed that the method adopted by the committee lacked a human face, accusing the committee members of sending security operatives after them.
When Saturday PUNCH visited one of the camps at BDGS, security was tight in the area as operatives of the Joint Task Force, riot police officers and operatives of paramilitary agencies had surrounded the facility.
The flood victims said the security officials were deployed in the area to enforce the eviction order and wondered what would happen to all the relief materials stockpiled by the committee in various warehouses.
The coordinator of victims from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Mr. Boro Friday, said members of the committee had withdrawn cooking materials and other facilities from the camp.
“We are stranded. The way they are going about closing this camp is not what we expected. It is different from the promises that the government made to us.
“We are asking them to, at least, give us some money and some foodstuff to enable us to start our lives afresh,” he said.
But the Media Coordinator of the committee, Mr. Markson Fefegha, said the panel had decided not to give money to the victims to avoid a crisis.
Fefegha, who is also the state commissioner for information, said the materials would be shared to the victims after they had relocated to their communities.
He, however, admitted that the committee that was inaugurated immediately the floods started lacked the accurate statistics of the displaced persons in the state.
He added that those who were hired by the committee to take records of the number of victims sabotaged the system.
Claiming that hoodlums had hijacked most of the camps, Fefegha said some of the saboteurs diverted food items meant for the victims.
He said the N2bn received by the government to manage the crisis was not meant to be spent on food alone.
“We are surprised that the people who said they were ready to go home are now complaining that they don’t have anywhere to go,” he said, adding that the committee had provided buses for the victims to return home.
On the allegation that the money meant for the victims was shared to commissioners, Fefegha said the commissioners were not given money by the committee.
He said, “The money was shared to the local government management teams, who were mandated to manage the crisis within the local councils.”