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Flood victims turn violent in Yenagoa, Jonathan adjusts plans

Displaced persons of the flood from six communities camped in Bishop Dimeri Grammar School (BDGS), Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, became violent, threatening to attack NEMA officials and visiting church leaders.

Displaced persons in one of the camps in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State

Their action forced the presidential team to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from coming to the BDGS camp to address the victims but rather diverted to the Samson Siasia Stadium, where the displaced persons were more organised and humble.

Their action according to them was as a result of abandonment, lack of food, medication, mattresses and generally being left to their fate.

Some of the victims who were ready to burn the truck of NEMA, complained that only the chairman from Sagbama Local Government gave them N300,000 and other relief materials while the rest have turned their backs on them.

Some of the victims said they were divided into six communities with relief materials representing each of the local government.

They complained of their representatives both in local government chairmen, commissioners, lawmakers both in state and federal government not visiting the camp to have first hand information of happenings in the camp. They claimed that those who managed to come stopped at the gate of the camp and turned back.

One of them said, “Let them come together and help us. At most, in two months this problem will be over. We have not seen any of our representatives, no local government chairman, no commissioner, no lawmaker both at federal and state level to come and see first hand what we are suffering here. The condition here is not conducive for us.”

The displaced persons turned violent at BDGS apparently to prevent a church service that was to be conducted in the camp by some Christian leaders.

They broke the glass doors of the venue of the service and chased away the church ministers.

They argued that they were not in the position to listen to the word of God with empty stomachs as not much had been done by the authorities to alleviate their sufferings.

Those who spoke also accused the church officials of being more interested in the collections they would get from the worshipers rather than their comfort.

However, the Bayelsa State chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Most Rev. Israel Ege, blamed the problem on the demand by the displaced persons for cash in place of the food that they were being served.

“If you give them cash, how will they share it? Some people will just grab it and go away,” he said.

The NEMA Zonal Coordinator South South Zone, Port Harcourt, Emenike Umesi, blamed their agitation on the fact that they are displaced from their homes and not because they are not receiving relief materials as they claim.

He said NEMA has divided the teams into groups with each handling one single commodity for distribution.

The items include garri, rice, beans, condiments, beverages, toiletries, medicines, mattresses, clothing, and groups specifically handling items for kids.

While revealing that there were over 40,000 registered displaced persons in the various camps in Bayelsa State, he spoke of threats from militants who are calling to demand for accommodation and relief materials or would be forced to mobilise and attack the camps.

The NEMA also revealed that those not displaced having been coming into the camp to make away with mattresses and food items and go and sale outside.

The camps are presently being attended to by volunteers from UNICEF, boys brigade, girls guard, red cross, ministry of health, military.

Umesi also said the decision by the state government to divide the displaced victims into local government has brought about discrimination with some claiming persons from a particular local government were getting more relief materials than others.

He said NEMA was against segregation of victims as even tents have been set up for non indegenes, which is against the spirit of disaster management in the world.

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