Some Libya returnees in Edo, on Monday, reportedly disrupted the town hall meeting organised by the State Task Force on Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration.
The aggrieved returnees reportedly protested the alleged discrimination in the disbursement of the N1m resettlement fund which each of them was promised by the state government.
They reportedly alleged “discrimination in selecting victims participating in the empowerment programme.”
Accosting to the News Agency of Nigeria, the protesting returnees in large numbers stormed the venue of the empowerment programme, destroying some items, including the tents, chairs and six ceiling fans.
The protesting returnees allegedly accused the task force of discrimination in its selective method of victims chosen to participate in the rehabilitation and reintegration programme organised for the victims of human trafficking and illegal migration by the state government.
NAN reports that it took the intervention of the men and officers of the Edo Police Command to calm the protesting returnees.
Jude Ikuenobe, who spoke on behalf of the protesting returnees, told NAN that new returnees were being selected ahead of those who had returned much earlier to participate in the programme.
“They have given some of those that just returned N1m, while those of us that came before them are yet to get anything from the government.
“We know that Governor Godwin Obaseki is trying;but we are sorry to say that members of the taskforce are busy enjoying themselves with what is meant to be for us (returnees).
“To make things worse, they have resorted to treating us selectively, depending on who you know.
“I am aware that even those who have been trained in various aspects of agriculture are yet to get the grant and land promised by the governor.
“With this in mind, how then do you rationalise the method of selecting and giving those who only arrived in December N1m as empowerment, leaving those of us who had returned months back stranded?
“While we remain grateful to the governor, however, we want the task force to be upright in its duty by doing the right thing,” he said.
Reacting to the incident, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration, Mr. Solomon Okoduwa, who condemned the protest, denied the allegation.
Okoduwa, who said there were civilized ways to express grievances, noted that every returnee that had been screened was enlisted into various empowerment programmes.
He explained that the empowerment programmes were in phases, noting that those yet to benefit in the ongoing phase would benefit later.
“There is no delay in the empowerment programme; the state government did not envisage the large number of returnees.
“And that is why the governor has accepted it as a challenge but requires the support and collaboration of all stakeholders,” he said.
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