Delta Opens IDP Camp For Displaced Okuama Community Residents

Mr Abraham Ogbodo briefing journalists at the IDP Camp

 

The Delta State Government said on Wednesday that the internally displaced persons’ camp for displaced residents of Okuama community of Ewu-Urhobo Kingdom in the Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state is now ready and open for occupation.

Chairman of the Ewu IDP Camp and Management Committee, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo, disclosed this on Wednesday at Ewu Town, the traditional headquarters of Ewu-Urhobo Kingdom.

Mr. Ogbodo said although the camp was now opened to receive victims, the IDP camp would be officially declared open by Governor Sheriff Oborevwori on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

The Committee, among other things, is to manage displaced victims at the IDP camp as well as to resettle and rehabilitate victims following the military invasion, which resulted in the total destruction of the agrarian community.

Recall that soldiers had invaded Okuama community following the gruesome murder of 17 military personnel, including a lieutenant colonel, two majors, and a captain, by unknown gunmen around the riverine community on March 17th.

Following the incident, personnel of the Nigerian military invaded Okuama community and destroyed all properties, including buildings belonging to residents and churches.

Ogbodo, a former Editor of The Guardian Newspapers, flanked by other members of the Committee including Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, Hon. Reuben Izeze, Dr Richard Kofi, Chief Oviri Uto, Hon. Josephine Oduaran, Obukohwo Henry Ediyo, Karo Ovemeso and Austin Ohwofaria and Chief Austin Emaduku; assured Okuama people of good intentions of the state government to resettle them in their ancestral home appealing to them to give the government and Committee the benefits of doubt.

The Committee Chairman disclosed that immediately after its inauguration, they went to work to prepare the camp and make it habitable for the displaced people of Okuama, adding that it took three weeks rigorous work to put the facilities in place in the camp, as the structures before now were in a bad shape.

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Ogbodo stated further they have received supply of food items, beddings, generator sets, medical and other things necessary for the camp to kickoff. And they are ready and set to start receiving displaced people from Okuama while waiting for the official opening of the Camp by the state governor by weekend.

According to him; “As of today, the camp is ready for habitation, and we are ready to start receiving displaced persons from Okuama as envisaged by the governor and all well-meaning Deltans for the IDP operation to take off.

He noted that as part of their plans, adequate preparation has been made for the education of Okuama children of school age to this effect, they have made arrangements to fix them up in both Ewu Grammar, where the Camp is sitted for those in secondary school and Ewu and Iheraki primary school to cater for the educational need of the children that would be brought to the IDP camp.

Ogbodo explained that they are not unmindful of some misgiving being expressed in some media report by the Okuama people about the camp at Ewu, he, however appealed to give them come over to the Camp, assuring that the Government can’t be wrong in taking the position in sitting Camp at Ewu. “What you are seeing here is a first step to a long-term solution.

“This Committee as you are all aware was empaneled when Okuama people were still in the bush, when the army was still in the community, so it didn’t create room to engaged them, nobody could engage them as at the Committee was setup.

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“And the mandate of this Committee was to ensure that they get off from the forest to stay in a habitable place, while the government look at substantive issues of bringing Okuama community that has been completely destroyed according to report to a baseline condition. Which is the intention of the government, and that intention is noble enough.

“We must also not run away from the fact that there are lingering issues there, and those who are to operate the IDP Camp, government has a responsibility to ensure that they are safe and everything goes on well. And if government in their wisdom says this is what we are going to provide in the short-term and in the long-term we are going to do everything, I don’t see why they should be talking of separate community, Ewu-Urhobo is one kingdom.

“I am applying to them to give government and this Committee the benefit of doubt, we know that there are a lot of grievances, but they should embrace this initiative of the government and in the end, they will have cause to say that there is sincerity on the part of the state government.

“Our appeal to Okuama people is that the Government means well, and for the government to do what it wishes to do, they have to be here, while government intervene in the bigger issue of returning them to a baseline condition in their Okuama community.

“We shouldn’t be emotional about the state of things in Okuama, the security issues are not completely dissipated, they are still there for a third-party intervention. And it would be difficult at this time for government to provide security cover to enable the operation of an IDP Camp at Okuama as it stands today.

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“When you call people to offer helpline to victim of crisis, you don’t do it in such a manner that those providing the helpline are endangered. The one with most information in the state is the governor, and if he is taking this position, that let do it this way, I think we should support him.

“He is the governor of the state, he is aware of your situation, your pains and sufferings. He is so worried about the situation in Okuama, so he should be giving the benefit of doubt.

“So, as of today, the Okuama IDP Camp at Ewu has unofficially open today, however, the state governor will officially declare it open by the weekend, I take by weekend to mean Saturday, but we need to firm up that date and keep you informed. Beyond this point, the camp is ready to receive persons that wants to come.

Ogbodo added that as part of efforts to get the displaced persons from Okuama to come to the IDP Camp at Ewu, that they are going to be engaging with the Okuama community leaders and also apply conventional media to reach out to them and encourage them to embrace government program.

He added that the IDP Camp though prepared for 200 adults excluding children, has the capacity to accommodate over 1500 persons should the need arise. Stressing that they are well prepared and can’t be overwhelmed by the numbers that will come the camp.

Mr Ogodo also assured that all logistic have been perfected to bring the Okuama people to the camp, adding that security measured have been put in place to ensure smooth running of the camp, noting that they have provided adequate security personnel to checkmate infiltrators.

 

 


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