May 28, 2024

Okuama-Ewu: Displaced residents finally report to IDPs camp


By Emma Amaize & Akpokona Omafuaire

UGHELLI—EMBATTLED residents of Okuama-Ewu community, Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, who had rebuffed the state government’s Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, Camp at Ewu finally showed up at the camp, yesterday.

The government sent buses to an agreed location to bring the residents from the community, following a truce brokered with their leaders, who met with Governor Sheriff Oborevwori, last Friday, at Government House, Asaba.

The displaced residents, who returned to Okuama-Ewu on May 8, hours after troops of the Nigerian Army, which laid siege to the community in the aftermath of the killing of 17 military personnel on March 14, departed the community, had refused the state government’s entreaty to report at the Ewu camp.

The community said the people of the Okoloba community embroiled in a land dispute with it, would overrun their homeland if they went to the IDP camp outside their settlement, urging the government to site the camp in Okuama-Ewu.

Citing security and other reasons, the state government declined their request until last Friday, when Governor Oborevwori met the community for the first time since the incident and persuaded the leaders with a promise to commence rebuilding the health center and a six-classroom block in a few weeks.

The men, women, and children arrived in buses as early as 10.30a.m., yesterday, following the governor’s plea for registration.

We‘re convinced Oborevwori means well—Ogedegbe

Secretary of Ewu-Ughelli South Development Forum, who met the governor with other leaders, Pastor Edewor Ogedegbe, said the governor expressed concern about the displaced residents and the Ewu IDP camp when they met with him.

He said: “We told him why they (residents) resisted it (camp) because of the underlying issues. He told us clearly that the government would address the matters systematically, and of course, gradually as well.

“He promised us that if the people came to the camp the government prepared, they would take care of them, and there would be room for improvement daily.

“We are convinced with what he told us, and the following day, we swung into action, went to the community, had a town hall meeting, and told them that the governor was sincere in his plan to address the issues.

“The people in their magnanimity, saw reason in what the governor said and decided to give him a chance, particularly as he wanted to start by building the health center and primary school.

“He gave marching orders to the two commissioners in charge of Health, Primary and Secondary Education. Hence, they were convinced. The people also said okay, if that was the position, they would heed to the advice.

“Today (yesterday), we are here, two buses have come and gone, and they are going back again, but I worried that when you talk about 200, it is a far cry from even the people that are coming only today (yesterday).

“Do not forget, the people are scattered all over the communities in the riverine areas in Urhobo land. I think the earlier they make room for extension, the better.”

We’ll increase the capacity immediately —Ogbodo, Ohwofaria

Chairman, Management Committee of the Okuama-Ewu IDPs Camp, Abraham Ogbodo, excited to receive the evacuated residents, said: “Now they have come; it is what we have always talked about that the camp should be made operational. We will take care of them. In terms of preparation, the capacity presently seems to be overstretched.

“We will raise the capacity almost immediately to ensure we take care of everything; we will not slack in any department.

“In no time, we will master the operations, and things will run smoothly. We are running it as a community. They live here as a community, which means they will be in charge of almost everything on their own, cooking, going to market and sanitation.”

The camp commandant, Austin Ohwofaria, said: “They (the leaders) have done what they told the governor, which is that they will make sure the people come to camp and we expressed our gratitude for delivering as promised.”

“Presently, we can accommodate more than 200, and there is room for extension, which is why we did that side. Therefore, as more people come, there is room for extension. There is no problem, you can see there is room for an extension, in case the need arises.”

When Vanguard departed Ewu, yesterday, the population overwhelmed the camp leadership as the people who reported exceeded the planned 200 capacity.

Except for the chairman, Ogbodo, the camp commandant, his assistant, and community representative, members of the management committee were absent.