By Isaiah Eka
Essien Udim (Akwa Ibom) – The National Commission for Refugees, Migrant and Internally Displaced Persons (NCRMIDP) has promised to send relief materials to Bakassi returnees in Akwa Ibom.
The Field Operation Officer of the commission, Mr Christopher Monday, said this when he paid a visit to the returnees’ camp in Ifa-Okon village in Essien Udim Local Government Area on Friday.
Monday said that he was directed by the commission’s headquarters to visit the returnees to ascertain their needs.
“We are here to assess your plight. We have seen your sufferings and what you are going through.
“I want to assure you people that the Federal Government is not leaving any of you in the dark.
“The government has approved that we come here and see what is on ground.
“We have seen what is on ground and we will report back to the commission and in the shortest possible time, we will come to put smiles on your faces.
“I want to let you know that this government is not playing partisan politics with the welfare of its citizens.”
He said that the commission would visit all the IDPs camps in the state to give hope to the hopeless.
“What we are going to do is to carry out assessment of the number of people in the camp because we cannot render assistance without knowing the total number of people,” he added.
Earlier, Mr Aston Inyang, the National Coordinator of Bakassi Returnees in Akwa Ibom, said that the returnees had living at the mercy of the community people for over four years since returning from Cross River.
Inyang appealed to the government to rehabilitate the IDPs camps in Akwa Ibom as they were in deplorable conditions.
He appealed to the government to empower the returnees to avoid their being used by mischief makers, especially in this period of economic recession.
Inyang added that returnees camps spread across the 31 local government areas were in need of government’s assistance.
Inyang said that the IDPs camp at the defunct Technical College, Ikot Ada Idem in Ibiono Ibom LGA was the first IDPs’ camp.
“The people staying in this camp are in thousands, but some of them have left to fend for themselves since no succour is coming from government,’’ Inyang said.
In a remark, the village head of Ifa-Okon village in Essien Udim LGA, Chief Michael Akpan, said that the returnees had been living in pitiable conditions since their return and that whenever it rains, the returnees took shelter in the Church.
The village head urged the government to provide skill acquisition for youths, healthcare facilities and education for the children, to give the returnees sense of belonging.
One of the children in the camp, Miss Mary Essien, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that she had lost her father and that her mother was poor and had no money.
A visit to some of the camps by NAN on Friday revealed a pitiable living condition for the Bakassi returnees, especially children and women, with some children looking malnourished.
The camps visited included Ikot Ada Idem IDPs camp, Bakassi returnees’ camp in Ituk Mbang, Uruan, Ikot Ediom in Ibesikpo Asutan, Ikot Oto in Ikot Ekpene and Ifa Okon village camp all in Essien Udim LGAs of the state