By Jovitta Iorshase
The Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency, BSEMA, Sir James Iorpuu, said about eight persons were murdered in the early hours of Friday, 11th August, 2023 at Igbian community, a settlement near Ortese village in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, by unidentified gunmen.
Sir Iorpuu made this known at the second Benue State Emergency Management Agency State Coordination meeting held at the SEMA office, Makurdi, recently.
The BSEMA boss stated that, the Agency received a report about the attack at the early hours of Friday where eight people were reportedly killed while others sustained various degrees of injuries.
“We received report that about eight members of Ortese community were gunned down by yet to be identified killers and Ortese houses one of our biggest Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) Camps. The killings took place few kilometers away from the IDP camp, so the IDPs were very angry and blocked the Makurdi -Lafia road since 5am.
“It took the combined efforts of the Army, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Traditional rulers among others to appeal to them in order to unblock the road. We were there to sympathize with the families”. He explained.
The Executive Secretary lamented the pathetic and annoying situation where innocent people of the state are continually been attacked in their sleep without any provocation.
Sir Iorpuu, who appreciated all partners, CSOs, and Ministries for always responding promptly to humanitarian aid, reassured them that together they can win the war of humanitarian crisis and solicited support from partners to initiate a football tournament among the IDPs camps.
He also revealed that, the United Nations High Commission in charge of managing the refugees in Ikyogen settlement and the IOM chief in collaboration with the International Organization have also scheduled a visit to SEMA for a three-day training for personnel on data verification in the state from 17th August 2023, so as to equip the Agency with ample knowledge of those to resettle and where, in case of flooding.
“Everyday, flood alerts are received from National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) with possible flooding from 9-13th August 2023 and only Ogbokpo is identified as red alert so far, there is no information received that it will affect the whole state.
“Another effort to mitigate flooding in the state is the recently launched street construction particularly targeting the flood prone areas by the state government”. He disclosed.
He also called on the partners to embrace the use of clearance certificate from SEMA, going forward, to enhance information sharing; avoid duplication of intervention services, documentation of actual infrastructure and efforts on the camps.
Participants who represented partners, CSOs, Agencies among others called on SEMA to repair damaged roads to some of the camps and give priority to the people living with disabilities in the camps.
They also requested that more attention be given to the rehabilitation Centre, Apir as well as Mental and Psychosocial health of the IDPs.
They further requested for increased sporting activities among displaced children to reduce their trauma, improved livelihood for IDPs among other concerns.
Allegations of some politicians snatching items donated to IDPs were also reported.
In his remarks, the Director General, Planning Commission, Prof. Andohol Jerome Andohol Jerome Jerom, commended SEMA, partners, donors, CSOs, among all other humanitarian related bodies for job well done and urged them to keep the tempo despite all challenges.
In another development, the Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA) has flagged off the first official distribution of relief materials to nine official and five non official IDPs camps in the state.
The Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA), Sir James Iorpuu, while flagging off the distribution at the SEMA premises in Makurdi, recently, disclosed that before his assumption of office, the working apparatus was disoriented and the Agency was not run like a government parastatal.
He revealed that, “the work tenets of the Agency was restructured on my assumption of office, I created situation awareness among staff and launched a SEMA website.”
Sir Iorpuu stated that Eighty -Eight staff have also be recruited in the Agency to upgrade the gross staff shortage he met on ground.
“I am happy to report to you that today, I have received interventions from the following: National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Engr. Dr. Sylvanus Ghasarah (OFR) donated 52 bags of 100 kg beans, 115 bags of 25kg rice, 200 pieces of mattresses, the Federal Ministry of Internal Water Ways donated five million, NEMA Jos Centre has nine trucks of food and non food palliatives for Benue.
“Today, we are sharing food items to nine official and five non official camps. This is the first time SEMA will be doing this publicly”.
The Executive Secretary further, explained that, the governor has now declared all camps as official. He said that, in summary, 5,500 bags of rice, ,5500 cartoons of noodles, 995 bags of garri, 995 bags of beans, 497 cartons of seasonings, 300 bags of salts, 530 gallons of red oil, 500 gallons of vegetable oil and 158 bags of sugar for all the 14 camps this month and the distribution will be done monthly.