The Ijaw National Congress has threatened to sue the Federal Government for negligence in handling the flooding crisis that has thrown many into abject poverty in the region.
Speaking in an interview with Saturday PUNCH on Thursday, the National Publicity Secretary of INC, Ezonebi Oyakemeagbegha, said the government was beginning to neglect the devastating effect of the flood disaster on the victims. Recall that the flooding which wreaked havoc across the country reportedly killed 603 persons, displaced 1,302,589 and destroyed over 108,393 hectares of farmlands across the country.
According to Oyakemeagbegha, many of the victims are now living in hardship and need continuous support to rebuild their lives. Calling on the government and well-meaning Nigerians to provide necessary facilities and build a dam to curtail future re-occurrence, he alleged that most of the palliatives didn’t get to all the victims.
“The flood has swept away the livelihood of a lot of our people who are fishermen and farmers. The people are in abject poverty and the challenges are too much. According to statistics, this major flood comes every 10 years. Now, the flood has subsided, a lot of these agencies will go to sleep and wait till the next 10 years as the case may be and we are worried.
“For us, we are sure that we will take the Federal Government to court because we want to go beyond this level of bringing in rice and carrying bags and mattresses that may not even get to the actual victims.
“We are in the process of taking the government to court for negligence. It is not the first time that we have had this challenge. We have situations where those people in the grave were not even allowed to rest in peace. Corpses were floating everywhere. Homes were destroyed.
“We want to insist that the necessary things must be done, especially on the construction of a dam, which of course many people have suggested. Now, the floods are over, nobody is talking about it. It’s just as if there is normalcy. It’s unfortunate. Again, the relief materials, according to my investigation, didn’t get to the actual people. So, the suffering is still there,” he added.
On his part, the National Publicity Secretary of Pan Niger Delta Forum, Ken Robinson, expressed concern over the closure of internally displaced persons’ camps without adequate provisions for the victims. He said, “It’s unfortunate that it’s the way Nigeria works. The floods have receded and everybody is moving on.
It is the responsibility of government at various levels to continue to follow up on the issues because of the level of destruction recovery is going to be extensive and expensive and so the victims of the flood and the local people may not be able to bear the responsibility of what it will take to reorganise their lives.
“You are aware that most of the internally displaced persons camps have been closed in the various states and people have been asked to return to their various homes, but buildings were destroyed, farmlands were destroyed, and livelihoods were destroyed. They will continue to need assistance from the government and well-meaning Nigerians.”