Hundreds of Libya returnees in Benin City Wednesday protested over alleged poor handling of their welfare by members of the Task Force on Human Trafficking and illegal Migration set up by Governor Godwin Obaseki. The returnees who staged a protest in major streets and ended up at Denise Osadebey’s Government House, called on the Governor to as a matter of urgency beamed its search light into the activities of the task force.
According to the protestants, they alleged that aside the fact that most of them were yet to start receiving the monthly N20,000 stipend, except for the initial 600 returnees out of the over 3000. They also accused the task force of organising a “face saving” two weeks training on various skills for them without starter parks. The returnees spokesman, Orobosa Odion, said they sense something was wrong because each time they protested over poor treatment, the task force will quickly arrange little money caller ‘transport fare’ for them to calm their nerves.
“How do you explain a situation where a would be “Tailor” fashion designer will be trained for just two weeks. Is this not scam? This people are not just taken us serious. “The worst of it was the treatment we received during the training where we were feed like beggers for two weeks. The same apply to the monthly stipend where those that have started receiving only got it once while majority are yet to be captured. The initial promised is for each of the returnees to get that stipend for three months.
“We know the governor meant well for us but there is need for him to have a close look at the activities of the task force. However, in a swift reaction, the task force has debunk the claim of poor welfare treatment being melted out to the returnees. The task force also blamed the returnee’s irregularity in their particulars to their banks as well as the fact that the task force were yet to get approval from the government for the delay in the payment of the stipend.
The task force accountant, Mr Chris Ogbomo, who spoke to newsmen also blamed the protest to misinformation. According to him, “This protest is simply as a result of mis-information because the returnees were supposed to be addressed by the ministry of Wealth Creation, Employment and Cooperatives, about the soft loan they were to get upon the completion of the two weeks training.
“Speaking on the training programme, the two weeks they were trained on various trade, including fashion, is meant to be basic training, they will still get comprehensive training. “As for the stipend, we will pay as soon as the money hit our account, the task force do not keep money in the account. What we do is apply to the government and once the money hits our account, we do the needful. “Another thing is that most of the returnees filled wrong information while opening their account; it is either they filled different names or there is problem with their BVN.”
Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration, Mr Solomon Okoduwa has assured the returnees of the governments committed to their welfare and wellbeing. Okoduwa who addressed the protesting returnees, assured them that the government would take a cursory look into their complains and urged them to be law abiding.
Similarly, 150 Libya returnees who were earlier trained on various aspect of agriculture, have appealed to the government to release the approved money and land allocated them after the training programme. The returnees said they are disturbed that three months after the training, they have not heard anything from the government.
It would be recalled that 150 returnees were in November 2017, trained on various aspect of agriculture such as Live Stock, Food Processing and Fishery and Cropping. No fewer than 3000 indigenes of Edo have been returned back home since the process started in late October 2017.
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