The Agony of Internally Displaced Persons Under a Cruel and Pretending Benue Govt
I earlier wanted to write an article titled “the agony of IDPs in Benue State” but when I visited a camp in Daudu yesterday,I heard their stories and decided to add something to the title. After visiting many camps housing the Internally displaced people(IDP) in Benue,heard the stories of others who also visited and the story of those displaced,I feel obliged to tell their story.
The fulani invasion started like a rumour till we started seeing people moving into Makurdi,the Benue State capital. It was like a scene in the movies. Pregnant women(some carrying children on their back),elderly people,children and many people trekking into town from interior villages. You could also see them with chickens,goats and other items they could hurriedly carry. They were all running from their villages. Gradually they flooded the whole town begging people for alms and assistance. Coming from Abuja into Makurdi,you will notice them on both sides of the road. I remember a day I saw one of them in my neighbourhood with sores all over her body pleading in a pharmacy for free treatment. Some will enter into any house and request for as little as water. The lucky ones who had members of their extended family in town were taken in by them.
Later,the Benue State government decided to set up camps to shelter them. These camps were mostly primary schools that have been abandoned due to the 7months old primary school strike. In all the camps I visited,there was this complain that relieve materials donated by people never get to them. They said some people hoard the relieve materials and use them to do people personal favour. Some will give relieve materials to girls and get sex in return. This explains why there were so many pregnant girls in these camps who couldn’t point at who was their husband. All the government did for them was provide shelter. They were sleeping on the floor in mostly open classes(there were few old and tattered mattress) and no food or water. You will see people cooking in small pots in front of their rooms. I mean we are talking about people who hurriedly left their home. Just on arrival in a particular camp they showed us a corpse. They covered the dead body with polythene on the corridor of one of the classes because they can’t bury him there or take him to the mortuary. We saw very sick people and some still nursing injuries they got while running from the crises. It was so terrible a sight to behold. Their suffering brought tears to my eyes. The real tragedy of the Internally displaced persons(IDPs) all over the world is that they remain legally under the protection of the same government that failed to protect them.
What baffled me more was that the Benue State government delayed in setting up camps for the displaced people but was in a rush to send them away from the camps immediately there was relative calm in the crises areas. In a particular camp the government brought buses to return them home but they all refused. I now begin to wonder how many buses the government sent to take them away from danger during the crises. A priest,Rev.Father Solomon Mfa Ukeyima who has taken it upon him self to help some displaced people said when they had a meeting of those helping from all over the state they discovered that Logo(the local government of governor Suswam) and Adikpo(the local government of the Executive secretary of State Emergency Management Agency,Adikpo Agbatse) that have felt the impact of the State Emergency management Agency. This was also confirmed by many people in the camp. A man in the Daudu camp told us that they went to meet with the Executive Secretary of Benue State Emergency Management Agency,Mr Adikpo Agbatse,to plead with him to give them relieve material but he refused with a dumb reason that they have been under the care of Rev.Father Solomon Mfa Ukeyima.They needed to plead and plead before he later agreed to send relieve materials to them but as I write they have seen nothing. Are they suppose to beg in other to get relieve materials? There were also stories that Mr Agbatse said they should leave to their villages or he will not give them any relieve materials. It is no news that the State Emergency Management Agency under Adikpo Agbatse is hoarding relieve materials and behaving like the materials are his personal property. Why will men be this wicked? Why will someone dare increase the suffering of these displaced people or use their misfortune to enrich themselves? From all indication peace has not really returned to the crises areas but the government just want them to go back to create an impression that normalcy has returned. I am thinking of using the videos we have to make a documentary in other to tell their story better.
Most times I really can’t help but worry about the way we are losing our humanity. On the other hand, I see hope in those young men and women who I joined in the campaign of #lend-a-hand Benue youth to help the displaced people. I am encouraged by those who sent relieve materials from far away places like Lagos,those who sent money from distant continents like Europe and America,those who don’t even know Benue State but for the sake of humanity contributed as little as N500 and those who pat us on the shoulder. We couldn’t help everybody but our effort went a long way. My dream is that one day our generation will turn this country around. Our children will only read these kind of atrocities in their history books and say “never again will this happen”. For the victims of the fulani militia invasion,let them remember the words of Maya Angelou “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it”. Though their loved ones were killed,houses,churches,schools and crops were destroyed,they can still start over again. On our path,we shall continue to assist through our campaign of #Lend-a-hand Benue youth. On this note,I join all men of goodwill to pray for the return of peace in Benue State and Nigeria.
Bemdoo Hulugh is an active citizen in Makurdi
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