From EMMANUEL ADEYEMI Lokoja
Hundreds of flood victims in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital yesterday stormed the streets, accusing the state government of abandoning them for over one week in spite of huge funds and materials collected on their behalf. The protesters some of who wore gloomy faces with some in tattered dresses while a number of them were seen clutching their babies alleged that government officials have diverted some of the food items meant for them into private use.
One of the protesters, a middle aged woman who identified herself as Hassan Mohammed strapping a six month old baby to her back and holding three other of her children narrated in tears their trauma at the camp sites. “ Na one loaf of bread dem dey serve a family of about six every morning while in some cases dem go give us a satchet of indomie. Na so so big money we dey hear say they donate but nothing dey come to us, we are dying”, she narrated in pidgin English. The federal government had in the wake of the flood disaster made some donations to all the states affected with Kogi State receiving over N500 million.
The Dangote foundation also donated over N430 million including truck loads of rice while Jide Omokore, a business mogul also donated N50 million and a former governorship aspirant donating N10 million with truck loads of other relief materials. This is aside other numerous donations from corporate bodies, individuals and international donors But the protesters alleged poor handling of the relief materials and the diversion of the funds meant for them The victims who are from St. Luke Primary School Adankolo camp came out as early as 8.00 am chanting war songs with variuos anti government placards The Spokesman of the Flood Victims, Aaron Haruna alleged that the Camp leader in connivance with other government officials diverted materials donated by the public spirited individuals and corporate bodies leaving them hungry
He also alleged that for the past one week they have been sleeping with empty stomachs , stressing that all the bedding materials donated have not been distributed to them. They also stated that the state government should give them the money donated to enable them to relocate to another place , stressing that they were tired of staying in the camp. “Food items, cooking utensils, stoves, mattresses even drugs have been diverted as soon as they were brought in to the camp “The other day soldiers brought 40 bags of rice to be shared to us but some government officials stole them and up till now we have not seen the trace of the rice again”,he stressed. As part of efforts to ensure that the protest was not hijacked by the hoodlums, the Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr. Zannah Ibrahim and other police officers led the protesters to Government House. While persuading the victims to be peaceful, the state police Commissioner,
Alhaji Mohammed Musa Kastina stated that the protesters should conduct themselves in a manner which will not degenerate into breach of peace in the state. Katsina appealed to the protesters to be calm and cooperate with the state government over the issue, stating that the government was working round the clock to ensure that the victims get what belong to them. In his reaction the Deputy Governor,
Yomi Awoniyi stated that it was not true that the flood victims have been abandoned saying government was trying its best He explained that the state government was not in haste to share money realized from the flood disaster saying that the state government has already set up a committee to go round all the affected nine local government areas of the state to assess the extent of damages on the property of the affected victims. Awoniyi stressed that the protest was as a result of misinformation and rumour going round the town The Deputy governor also told newsmen that most of the victims have been selling the food items given to them in the markets, arguing that it was unfair for them to accuse the camp officers of not giving them food again.