By Joseph Edegbo
Igala national socio-cultural group with membership across political, social, economic and cultural associations of Kogi East, Uk’Omu Igala Organisation, has lamented the abandonment of the region in the face of natural disasters, accidents, and wanton destruction of lives and properties.
His Royal Majesty, Attah Igala
The group, in a statement signed by its National Leader, Mr David Abutu, and National Secretary, Dr Sebastine Abu, and made available to newsmen expressed dismay at the undeserved silence from Governor Yahaya Bello, the Federal Fire Service, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS), and other security operatives, over the multiple and existential crises in Kogi East.
The statement, released on Friday, September 30, reads thus: “We are shocked beyond verbal expression that in spite of the fact that Ibaji Local Government Area, and other communities by the bank of River Benue, are under water, Governor Bello has remained aloof as if nothing is amiss in the state. Even Onyedega, Ibaji Local Government headquarters, is under waters.
“The people have evacuated their towns and villages and moved to Idah, Delta, Anambra, Edo, and Enugu States in search of safety, with thousands still stranded in the area without any help as all farmlands, roads, buildings, and social institutions have been submerged under heavy floods for close to a week now.
“There is comprehensive destruction of valuable assets; all crops planted in the local government, which is one of the food baskets of Nigeria, are lost. But no help has come from any quarters.” The group lamented
Uk’Omu Igala explained further that, “It is unbelievable that in Ankpa Local Government Area, there was no fire service to halt the spread of fire from a petrol tanker that exploded at Mabolo bridge on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 killing over 20 persons who were burnt and smashed beyond recognition.
According to the statement, the petrol tanker’s brake failed from the hill overlooking River Mabolo, exploded and its fire destroyed all the buses, motor-cycles and persons in and around the busy river.
The statement added that throughout the hours that the fire razed down people and properties, there was no help from any quarters.
” This is totally unbelievable! Ankpa is an old city, a commercial centre and the headquarters of Ankpa Local Government Area, but there is hardly any federal presence. We cannot accept such deadly negligence.”
The group also raised serious concerns over “the attitude of government and security agencies to the constant violence and cannibalism in Bassa Local Government Area of the State.
While berating the indiscriminate killings, victims’ bodies are allegedly roasted and eaten by so-called Bassa Kwuomo militia, who have been at loggerheads with Ebura-Mozum ethnic group in the Local Government Area, decries the communal crises that seemed to have defied solutions.
Ukomu Igala averred that the current situation has political underpinning, related to rivalry over ownership of land and the leadership of the local government.
“The situation has so degenerated that Igala people in the area are living in constant fear of, not just being waylaid and killed by Bassa Kwuomo militia, but also of being eaten by those who claim to be fighting for the rights of Bassa Kwuomo people.
“The state government is not unaware of this situation, but decisive action has not been taken to bring those who instigate the evil to book.”
Uk’Omu Igala is however, appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, and the likes, to quickly intervene to mitigate the suffering and predicaments of the people displaced by the flood disaster in Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State.
According to the group, “The Federal Fire Service Office in Ankpa and other local governments in Kogi East should be equipped with functional vehicles, water, and other disaster responsive and management facilities, to avoid the re-occurrence of the disgraceful mayhem that occurred in Ankpa on Thursday.
” The Federal Government must compensate victims of the fire disaster and those in hospital should be given medical attention at Federal Government or Kogi State Government’s cost.
“Security agencies should move into Bassa Local Government Area to arrest all members of the militia that have made the council a no-go area for other ethnic communities because of their violence and cannibalism. “The criminals should be fished out, investigated and made to face the wrath of the law. This is the only way to curtail the barbarism going on in the area.
“Governor Bello should return to Kogi State to attend to the emergencies, instead of playing the ostrich by campaigning for 2023 presidential elections. As the Chief Security Officer of Kogi State, Governor Bello should attend to the devastation and calamity that has befallen Kogi East Senatorial District…
” Kogi State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, should be immediately directed and funded to enable the Agency respond to the emergency needs of victims of these multiple disasters.
“Kogi State Council of Traditional Chiefs should urgently convene a meeting to address the security situation in Bassa Local Government Area. They are the Fathers of the State; they must not keep quiet when evil is being perpetrated by criminals in such a manner and at the alarming and unacceptable scale, as we find in Bassa” The Group appealed.