Benue flood victims accuse state government of misappropriation of relief funds

Flood victims

The victims say they have not received the Federal Government intervention fund since it was released.

Victims of last year’s flooding in Benue State have appealed to the Federal Government to intervene in the release of the N500 million relief fund meant for the affected people.

Some of the flood victims, who spoke in Makurdi on Tuesday, said they were dissatisfied with the way the state government handled the fund and accused the government of misappropriating the funds.

The victims hoped that the Federal Government would intervene and ensure adequate disbursement of the fund.

One of the victims, Comfort Iorvihi, said: “The Federal Government is our only hope; the President, out of pity, gave us the money but the state government has decided to use it for different purposes.

“We must change from this kind of thing; if we really have the interest of our children at heart. We would pray so that God will change the minds of our leaders and they would release our funds.

“In other states, the state government had released additional funds to be shared out to the victims, but in my state, the government officials have decided to keep us in the dark,” she said.

The victims expressed dissatisfaction over the delay and in-action by the state government over their plight.

After the victims were forced out of the camps on November 24, 2012, majority of them had converted uncompleted buildings and makeshift tents as temporary homes.

“Our houses were completely submerged, yet we were forced out of the camps when we do not have anywhere to stay.

“We are aware of NIMET prediction of possible heavy flood in 2013, but as you can see, we do not have anywhere to go,” Ms. Iorvihi said.

Another victim, Akaasee Tor, who said she was raising her children as a single parent following the death of her husband, called on the government to assist them.

“We need alternative accommodation outside the flood-prone areas; a home is a foundation; it is the first thing all of us here need, without that we remain unsettled. Once we get accommodation, we can put everything else in place and develop from there.

“We want to move on with our lives, people who are not affected do not understand what we are passing through now,” she said.

Findings further showed that the government had yet to take proactive measures to prevent another flooding as the NIMET prediction had indicated.

The only financial assistance the state government had given the victims so far was the N2, 000 per family as welfare package in November 2012.

Investigation further showed that victims of last year‘s flood disaster in Benue had all returned to the flood-affected areas in spite of the government warning to the people.

In an attempt to compel the state government to release the grants, a victim, Rommy Mom, through his lawyer, Kizito Agba, had sued the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, BSEMA.

BSEMA is the agency saddled with the responsibility of disaster management in the state.

Effort to speak with the new chairman of the Benue Committee on Flood Disaster Relief Management, David Salifu, and the Secretary to the State Government proved abortive.

When contacted, Sam Lyam, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Urban Development, directed a correspondent to the state Director of Environment, Daniel Iorshagher, who had earlier declined to comment.

Effort to speak to the Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency, BSEMA, Adikpo Agbatse, proved abortive as he switched off his telephones and denied a correspondent access to his office.

However, a staff of BESMA who pleaded anonymity said that the committee had completed its assignment and submitted same to the governor for approval.

Also effort to speak to the Commissioner for Environment and Urban Development, Eugene Aliegba proved abortive as he was not available in his office and did not answer the calls.

(NAN)


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