WARRI â€” THE Delta State Government is to build new settlements for the Ijaw and Itsekiri communities in Warri South-West Local Government Area of the state devastated by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger Delta during its aborted Cordon and Search operation in the area.
Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, disclosed this weekend while speaking on the governmentâ€™s plan to return the thousands of displaced persons to their communities from today (Monday) said the project would cost the state government billions of naira.
According to the governor, the state government has reached an agreement with the JTF to facilitate the return of the displaced persons, most of whom were camped at the Ogbe-Ijoh General Hospital.
Before now, the JTF had categorically denied that it destroyed any Ijaw community during its search operation for militants. However, the governor confirmed that the report he got showed that Okerenkoko community was extensively destroyed, saying the government was going to build a completely new town in Okerenkoko.
His words, â€œAt last, we have reached an agreement and an arrangement is fully on ground for the displaced people of Gbaramatu Kingdom to start going back to their communities, especially those from Okerenkoko, Oporoza and the other villages, where there was displacement.
â€œThe official flag-off will be on Monday, the 3rd of August and they would start moving back. There is no doubt that some of the communities, especially Okerenkoko was really affected by the destruction and what we are doing now is to put up temporary structures for the people going back home to stay,â€ heÂ stated
Nevertheless, Governor Uduaghan conceded that environmental problems would prevent the immediate return of normal economic life in the area, particularly as the victims were mostly fishermen.
He noted that crude oil pollution mainly from damaged oil facilities would make such activities impossible, stressing that such developments informed insistence by him and some of his colleagues from the region that the Federal Government must follow up the amnesty plan with post-amnesty programme to ensure rehabilitation of some of the boys involved in the conflict.
â€œBecause of damage to oil facilities, there is a lot of pollution in that area and it will take quite some time for the water to be okay again for fishing purpose. The environment needs to be cleaned up that is not something that can be done immediately because there has to be assessment and other things.
â€œThat plan is up between the state, federal government and oil companies for the aqua life to return. But in the interim, people have to do something so there will be fish pond and land for farming and some business with the oil companies,â€ he added.
He also revealed plans by his government to put up skill acquisition centres for the youths of the area to be gainfully employed and be useful to themselves, stressing that it informed the need for post-amnesty plans.
On the fear that the JTF would re-attack the people, he reassured that the task force has givenÂ assurance that those returning home would not be attacked or molested by soldiers in the waterways just as pledges had been extracted from leaders of the various communities that their youths would be of good conduct during and after the exercise.