Bassey Inyang in Calabar
One time Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, wants the Federal Government to probe the distribution of relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria.
She is also asking the Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade to probe the alleged diversion of relief materials meant for the fire outbreak victims of Bakassi.
Ita-Giwa made the call on Tuesday in Calabar against the backdrop of the alleged diversion of the relief materials meant for the internally displaced people of Bakassi whose shanties in Ata Ema, Dayspring Island, Cross River State, were engulf by fire, early this year.
The relief materials donated by the National Refugees Commission (NRC), April this year, were alleged to have been discovered in the residence of a private person, and the open market in Calabar.
The items meant for distribution to the displaced Bakassi fire victims composed largely of medical supplies, foodstuff, toiletries, building materials, and a host of others.
The NRC reportedly handed over the relief materials valued at millions of naira to the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to be distributed to the affected Bakassi people, but it is alleged that the items were never distributed to them as they were diverted to those they were not meant for.
While addressing journalists, Ita-Giwa said the diversion of the relief materials meant for the Bakassi people was very revealing about the ill manner some people placed in positions of responsibility to the citizens treat them.
â€œThis incident is an eye opener, and I believe it has been happening for a long time.
With this discovery now, I am calling on the Federal Government to investigate the mode of distribution of relief materials to IDPs all over the nation, not just Cross River State. Because, maybe, most of those things they claim they have been sending to those people end up in the markets. This is an example. Government would be wasting money, thinking that they are rehabilitating people, thinking they are intervening, whereas those things are not getting to the people. So they must be investigated,â€Ita-Giwa said.
Urging Ayade to also direct that investigation be conducted on the diversion of the relief materials meant for the internally displaced people of Bakassi, Ita-Giwa said: â€œI would be very shocked if the governor of this state, who has been crying for Bakassi people, and I want to believe that those tears are real tears; if he does not act immediately on this report because it is an embarrassment for a man that preaches sympathy for the underprivileged, a man that says that from his own background he knows how it feels like to be trampled upon, and he has openly been shedding tears for Bakassi. In fact in recent times, he has shed more tears than myself. So, I would be very surprised if the governor does not do something urgently for a people, whose relief materials were sold in the market.â€
Ita-Giwa again called on the concerned authorities in the state, and the country to properly resettle the people of Bakassi in Dayspring Island, stating that doing so would check such developments as the diversion of materials.
Ita-Giwa said it was not proper to relocate the Bakassi people to an existing Akpabuyo Local Government Area, hence the proper thing was to resettle them in Dayspring, a virgin area of their choice which suits the lifestyle of the people which is fishing.
She kicked against revisiting of the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), that ceded the Bakassi peninsula because it would be an exercise in futility.