Oron, Akwa Ibom State – The Akwa Ibom Bakassi Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons Cooperative Association (AKIBARCON) has disclosed that the Federal Government just started sending them relief materials in 2022, since their unplanned return from Bakassi Peninsula in 2008. The President of the group, Obong Solomon Inyang, and the Secretary-General, Dr Anthony Edem, made this known during a flag-off of the distribution of fishing equipment and other relief materials to them by the Federal Government in Oron.
The group appealed to the Federal Government to implement the Green Tree Agreement that was signed in 2006, stating that its non-implementation has adversely affected the economic and social well-being of the Bakassi returnees and internally displaced persons in the state. They also urged the FG to make the relief materials available on a monthly basis, deploring the deplorable conditions of about “75,000 voiceless Bakassi Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in the state.”
The Federal Commissioner of, National Commission For Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Hajia Ismali Ahmed-Suleiman, presented the items on behalf of the presidency, assuring that her visit to the area would have a positive impact on the welfare of the refugees in the camp. She noted that the President was mindful of the welfare of Nigerians, especially the vulnerable members of society, and encouraged them not to lose hope because of their present condition.
In his address, Mr Cajetan Iheanacho, head of the office, Oron field, disclosed that the refugees’ location in Akwa Ibom State is spread over sixteen (16) Local Government Areas, but for administrative convenience, it is reduced to seven settlements. He said there are over 1500 new arrivals (returnees) awaiting registration in the state, pointing out that in Oron and Nsit Ubium alone, they have profiled 200 and 130 refugees respectively.
“The NCFRMI Akwa Ibom field office in collaboration with UNHCR carried out a registration exercise of the refugees in the month of September 2021. At the end of the registration, we had a total number of 1,670 registered refugees. In Oron alone, we have over 200 profiled new arrivals awaiting registration and in Nsit Ubium we discovered over 130 refugees and profiled them. So far, in the entire state, we have over 1,500 new arrivals waiting for registration,” he said.
The distribution of relief materials to the Bakassi returnees and internally displaced persons in Akwa Ibom State is a welcome development, as it will help alleviate their suffering. However, it is important that the Federal Government fulfills its promise to make the relief materials available on a monthly basis and implements the Green Tree Agreement to ensure the economic and social well-being of the Bakassi returnees and internally displaced persons in the state.