The Senate has called the attention of the Federal Government to the plight of over 1.5 million Benue residents who were displaced by bandits, saying that these people now impoverished urgently need to be resettled to resume their normal lives.
The lawmakers specifically asked the Federal Government to redeem a N10 billion promise made to the Benue State government for rebuilding of the destroyed communities where the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) come from.
In a motion sponsored by Senator Zam Tartenger (APC- Benue) of All Progressives Congress (APC), at plenary, a resolution was brought forward on the need to resettle displaced people of Gwer-West, Markurdi and Guma local government areas to their ancestral homes and avert imminent humanitarian crisis in the state.
Tartenger, in his lead debate, noted that farmers in the Gwer-West, Malardi and Guma local government areas of Benue State had been sacked and displaced by bandits masquerading as herders in the last seven years.
“This has resulted in the people taking abode at camps under deplorable and excruciating conditions at Naka, Agagbe, Ahagena North Bank, Daud, Umanger, and Ghajingba in Gwer-West, Makurdi and Guma local government areas.
“The continued stay of the people at the camps potentially exposes them to humanitarian crisis, an outbreak of diseases and other health challenges,” the lawmaker said.
The Benue State Emergency Management Agency, in its statistics available, indicate that as of September 2022, the number of IDPs) in Benue State stand at 1, 597,000 persons.
Tartenger noted that catering to the huge population was beyond the financial strength of the state government.
He further expressed worry that “between January and October 2022, 560 children living in the Internally Displaced Persons camps scattered in Gwer-West, Makurdi, Guma and other parts of Benue, as reported by BENSEMA, were malnourished.
He said, “former Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, who had paid a sympathy visit to Benue in 2015, promised the sum of N10bn for the resettlement of the displaced people. This promise has unfortunately been kept in the breach.”
The Senate, in its resolution, urged the Chief of Defence Staff to immediately facilitate and supervise the quick return of all displaced persons to their ancestral homes and provide a sustainable security corridor in all flash points within the affected communities.
The lawmakers also directed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management to provide medical, food and other relief materials to the displaced persons.