By John Ighodaro
CALABARâ€”Over 300 Bakassi returnee families have been allocated houses at Bakassi- resettlement site at Ekpri Inkang in Bakassi local government Area of Cross River State.
Those that benefitted from the allocation included people from Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers, Delta and BayelsaÂ states.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr. Sampson Sambo, 39, from Bayelsa State, who lost his home to the Camerounian gendarmes, said it was wonderful to have a modern home with household amenities to call his own.
He said although he had money as a fisherman while in Bakassi Peninsula, it never crossed his mind that he would one day be the owner of a modern house as had been given him in New Bakassi.
Another beneficiary, Mrs Mary Udo Akpan, 61, a mother of six, who fled the Peninsula following alleged klling of her husband by the gendermes, said the Nigerian government has really given her a pleasant surprise.
Yet another, a 35-year-old Mr Etim Bassey Effiong, who lost his boat, fishing nets, home and other means of livelihood, said he was grateful to the Cross River State government which, through its humanitarian agency, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) had been zealous in giving succor to the returnees.
Meanwhile, plans are onÂ top gear to embark on a skill acquisition and empowerment programme for the returnees.
The training will be in the areas of tailoring, barbing and hair saloon, vulcanising, welding, cobbling, painting, driving, bricklaying, carpentary and cream and soap making as well as restaurant management.
Addressing the beneficiaries of the houses , the Director-General, SEMA, Mr. Vincent Aquah, urged the returnees to allow those yet to benefit from the programme to be accommodated with them to ease the distribution of food and other relief materials
Last week, a group of persons illegally occupying the houses who were booted out to give way to the authentic beneficiaries, stormed the office of SEMA, claiming that they were among the first returnees in 2008 and should be allowed to stay.
The Director-General SEMA, Mr. Vincent Aquah, had clearly told them of the consequences of occupying government structures without due permission and that it was out of governmentâ€™s magnanimity that they were not arrested.