The governor disclosed that he would visit to the IDP camps starting from next week to address them on the need for them to seek alternative place of refuge
Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
There is now palpable fear in the eight designated Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Benue State, following the alleged withdrawal of policemen attached to the camps.
Following the incessant killings of farmers occasioned by the invasion of Fulani herdsmen into the state since January 2018, over 180,000 persons including women, children and the aged became tenants in IDP camps. The people cannot yet return to their villages as a result of security threats posed by armed Fulani militia who they alleged are still very much around in most of the affected villages.
Governor Samuel Ortom had raised the alarm about the alleged withdrawal of policemen penultimate Wednesday during the visit of the national officials of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus: “I have just received information now that policemen in IDP camps have been withdrawn on the directives of the Inspector General of Police and I have no control over them.”
The governor disclosed that he would commence visit to the IDP camps starting from next week to address them on the need for them to seek alternative place of refuge: “I will be going to the camps to visit them to tell them to find alternatives because there is no point keeping them without security.”
He also spoke of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike redeeming his pledge: “The N200 million Governor Wike promised 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 Daily Sun visited three of the eight camps located in Makurdi and Guma local government areas, many of IDPs were seen gathered in groups apparently discussing the development. While policemen were found at Abegana camp in Makurdi, some of the IDPs at RCM Primary School and Humanitarian Refugees camps all in Daudu, Guma Local Government, said the policemen withdrew last week on Wednesday.
The chairman of IDPs at Abegana camp, Philip Usatse, said although they got the news of withdrawal of policemen from IDP camps but he was not sure if the directive would affect the camp.
Mrs. Tabitha Kwatse, mother of four from Kaseyo village in Guma LG is among the 34,000 IDPs taking refuge at the Abagena Camp on the outskirts of Makurdi. She disclosed that she could not return to her village because “Fulani herdsmen were still occupying the area. Efforts by some persons to return to the village in the past had caused them their lives. The mother of four who stood with other women discussing the issue lamented what would become of them after the police withdrawal since they cannot yet return to their homes:
“We are just hanging unto the little strings of hope left in us here. How can anyone ever withdraw policemen who have been guarding us at the time we are yet to return to our villages? We are afraid to go back home because of insecurity and now, they are withdrawing security men from our camps. I just pray it is all rumour because I don’t know what we will do if it is true.”
Pa Ortese at the IDP camp at RCM primary school, Daudu, said he also heard the news and by Wednesday night, policemen deployed in the place were nowhere to be found:
“We were told that the policemen deployed in this camp are expected to leave the camp and you know if such a thing happens, we are not safe.”
Another IDP, Hembadoon, said even the usual police patrols carried out at night did not take place on Wednesday night. And at the United Nations Humanitarian Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) camp in Daudu, Mrs. Dooshima Joel who spoke through an interpreter said the report of withdrawal was brought to them on Wednesday:
“We have been living in fear since then, we cannot go back to our communities because Fulani are still there. Now they are withdrawing policemen from guarding us here. So, where do we go from here?”
READ ALSO: 68.5m people displaced globally – UNHCR
The camp commandant at Daudu, Omirigbe Angela, confirmed t that they were informed of the withdrawal of policemen from the camp. She disclosed that 10 policemen were deployed in each of the camps:
“It is true, we were told yesterday (Wednesday) that the policemen deployed to the two camps in Daudu here would be withdrawn today but as you can see they are still here. Ten policemen were attached to each of the camps in Daudu.
But when contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Moses Yamu, debunked claims that policemen were withdrawn from the IDP camps: “You can find out from the IDP camps, you will see that no policeman has been withdrawn. Our men are still very much on ground in the eight IDP camps. I do not know where that speculation is coming from.”