Dozens of Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) and other Bayelsans numbering over hundreds yesterday stormed the headquarters of Baraza Multipurpose Cooperative Society at number one, Otiotio Road in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, demanding for the refund of the monies invested in the cooperative society.
The PWLDs who came in crutches and wheelchairs barricaded the Mbiama-Yenagoa road for several hours while the able-bodied ones who gained entrance to the office carted away office equipment from the office.
This is as the veil of expectations covering over 40,000 Bayelsans who invested in Baraza Multipurpose Cooperative Society may have finally been pulled off their eyes.
Many of them who are now faced with bitter reality of a failed business venture with glaring indications that their monies may have gone down the drains, expressed their anger at the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Baraza, Pastor Miebi Bribena, an ordained Pastor of Christ Embassy.
Baraza has been struggling to get back on its feet after it slumped into a catastrophic financial crisis where it became unable to pay investors their 25% monthly surpluses for the past four months.
Pastor Miebi Bribena, had promise his teaming members that the cooperative would come back on stream on July 19, 2021 and would begin payment with those he called first timers after which others would also be paid but that heightened hopes soon turn to despair after months of patiently waiting for the promised day to come true.
Leader of the PWLDs, Taritimi Warriam, sad they will occupy the office of the company till all their demands are met, saying that he personally invested N11 million in the now failed scheme.
“On the first of February, 2021, was when I invested the money but up till now I have not seen a dime from Baaza. After coming to this place on Monday, they asked me to assemble my disable people, that we will treated specially which I did but up till today (Friday) we have not seen anything.
“But to my greatest surprise Baraza called me yesterday that we should calm down that he is processing a new platform but nothing yet has happened and we occupying here until our money is paid.”
“Forget when they tell you people are looting, there is nothing here that is worth what we have invested. I invested N11Million and I was supposed to get 25 percent of that amount every month but I have not got a dime and so are other persons here.”
Another PWLD, Titity Tariowei, who said, he invested N400, in both simple and compound interest since November last year, said he was paid for only three months but he is yet to get a dime from the Baraza for over six months.
Kingsley, who was seen siting on the bare floor with tears in his eyes, said he invested N3million and was only paid a moth interest of 25 percent before the payment stop.
Our correspondent gathered that the PWLDs has barricaded the headquarters of the company since Monday, threatening to move away a giant soundproof generating set belonging to Baraza in place of their deposited funds.
It took the Mobile Police men attached to the financial organization a Herculean task to peacefully disperse the aggrieved disabled persons.
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When our correspondent who visited the premises, observed that there said were heavy security presence around the two-storey mansi with stern looking, armed security operatives strategically positioned while the Christ Embassy Church, located with the premises has since relocated.
The acting Commissioner of Police, Aminu Alhassan, who was on ground to plead with the protesters, urged them to call carry out their protest peacefully without resorting to vandalization of properties.
He said, “The resolution is not farfetched, this people has deposited their monies on condition and unfortunately, the person who is supposed to pay them has not been able to pay them.
“From all indications, the account had been frozen, there is even another court case, but what we don’t want them to do is not to take the laws into their hands or seek self help.”