By Ogar Monday
In a twist of events relating to the diversion of relief materials meant for Internally Displaced Persons in Bakassi local government of southern Cross River State, a group; Coalition of Bakassi Indigenes, has accused Senator Florence Ita-Giwa of double standards.
Ita-Giwa had last week accused members of the People’s Democratic Party of ‘stealing’ and ‘re-selling’ relief materials but the Coalition of Bakassi Indigenes say she has been the one diverting relief materials meant for returnees and displaced Nigerian citizens in Bakassi.
“We wish to put on record that the falsehood and fraud that had characterized the entire Bakassi resettlement program is still being played out by the major actors in this present episode of the unending Bakassi resettlement drama,” said Austin Ibok, the spokesperson for the group at the Ikot Effiom resettlement camp where he also called for a full scale inquiry by local, national and international bodies to the Bakassi resettlement program since inception.
He said that; “The same persons that were signatories and active participants in the fraudulent ceding of our ancestral land using a very deceptive and surreptitious Green Tree Agreement that never sought the consent of our people are the main actors in this very annoying drama.”
Continuing he pointed out that; “The creation of another resettlement camp in Akpabuyo, away from the original camp site at Ekpri Ikang, was instigated by same Florence Ita Giwa to enable her and her cohorts take full control of the entire resettlement program as it is today.
“For the past four years, no single returnee has received any relief material, cash or even medical care from the Ita-Giwa led resettlement committee, as those in Bakassi camp are labeled as illegal returnees and left in penury to their own fate.
“The senator rather preferred to create a false returnees camp at Akpabuyo to enable her perpetuate the ongoing fraudulent practices in the program, where rented crowds are arranged to receive visitors and government officials as well as Government donated relief materials that are cunningly retrieved and shared among the main actors or out-rightly sold in the black market for pecuniary gains.”
The group totally denied the existence of Dayspring which Ita-Giwa claims to be her ancestral home and is part of the Bakassi Peninsula that was not ceded.
They held that “Dayspring is part of a marshy fishing settlement in Calabar South Council of the state and has been a fishing port of Ikang community and it is seasonally inhabited with a population of less than 1000 persons.”
“We are reliably informed that there was no incidence of fire outbreak in the stated Bakassi communities as presented to NEMA by Florence Ita-Giwa that led to the donation of the relief materials in question. This can be testified to by the traditional heads of the stated villages present with us.
“Those materials, despite our strong opposition were handed over by the SEMA DG to the Bakassi Local Government HOLGA who on the directives of the same Senator Ita-Giwa and her group that claim to own the resettlement program, distributed the materials directly to the persons penciled down by them rather than to the poor displaced and hungry Bakassi returnees.”
Also, Mr. Ani Esin a former Local Government Chairman of Bakassi said there is only one camp known to the Federal Government and the international communities and that Senator Florence Ita-Giwa had created camps to enrich herself and her cronies.
He said that there are issues that need urgent attention like the issues of citizenship and that of fishing rights and wonder why Florence Ita-Giwa will want to feed fat on the misfortune of others.
One of the community leaders Mr. Gabriel Etim reiterated Mr. Ani’s stand and pointed out that the needs of the IDPs have gone beyond rice and beans which when sent down does not get to the people.
Mr. Etim added that the government needs to do another NEEDS assessment of the place to find out new challenges which are now about the issues of resettlement, rehabilitation, resuscitation and others in that light.
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.