Don’t withdraw policemen, Benue IDPs beg IG

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Cross Section of Internally Displaced Persons in Benue State

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) yesterday kicked against plans by the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, to withdraw his men from the eight IDP camps in Benue State. The victims, who have been in the camps for the past eight months with no hope of returning to their ancestral homes as the armed Fulani herdsmen are still occupying their villages, said their lives were no longer safe. Governor Samuel Ortom had told journalists in Makurdi about the plan by the IG to withdraw policemen deployed in the camps.

“I received information that policemen in the IDP camps were withdrawn on the directive of the Inspector General of Police and I have no control over them,” Ortom said. The governor said he would visit the camps next week to address the victims on the need for them to seek alternative place to take refuge. He said: “I will be going to the camps to visit them and tell them to find alternative because there is no point keeping them.

“The N200 million Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike promised to give to alleviate the plight of the IDPs is in the account, I will use the money to mobilise them and whatever we get at the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) will be distributed to them.” But when our correspondent visited two of the eight camps located in Makurdi and Guma local government areas, it was observed that already some of the victims were gripped by fear of the unknown.

However, there were some policemen and vigilantes were at Abegana camp in Makurdi and at the RCM Primary School in Daudu. Chairman of IDPs at Abegana camp, Philip Usatse, said reports of withdrawal of policemen filtered to the camp but expressed doubt that the directive would affect the camp.

“We were told that the policemen deployed to Abagena camp are expected to leave the camp and you know if such thing happens, we are no longer safe,” one of IDPs said. The Camp Commandant in charge of the Daudu camps 1 and 2, Omirigbe Angela, also confirmed that they were informed of the withdrawal of policemen.

“It is true; we were told yesterday (Wednesday) that the policemen deployed in the two camps in Daudu here would be withdrawn today but as you can see they are still here,” Angela said. The commandant added that 10 policemen were attached to each of the camps in Daudu. Efforts to get the reaction of the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Moses Yamu, failed as he did not pick his call.

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