Red Cross faults FG over false claim on return of Ogun refugees in Benin Republic
The Nigerian Red Cross Society has faulted the Federal Government’s claim that some Ogun State residents forced to seek refuge in Benin Republic as a result of killer herdsmen’s activities have returned home.
The humanitarian group said through its Ogun State Executive Branch Secretary, Oluwole Aboyade, that the refugees were still in the neighbouring country as their homes in Nigeria have been destroyed.
Aboyade was responding to a claim made by officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Reports of kidnapping, raping, and killing by Fulani herdsmen of residents of many villages in Yewa land in Ogun State are well documented, forcing the hapless victims to flee to the francophone country.
Some of them later told newsmen in their temporary abode in Benin Republic how the herdsmen besieged their villages and visited mayhem on them, including burning their children and homes.
The refugees are mostly from Agbon-Ojodu, Moro, Asa, Ibeku and other villages in Yewa local government area of Ogun State.
Director of Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bolaji Akinremi had said that a team of Nigerian Embassy officials that visited the Benin Republic villages which hosted the Nigerians were informed by their traditional rulers that the Nigerians had returned home.
He said, “Our mission visited the villages mentioned and met with rulers, but was told that those who came as a result of the crisis had returned after a few days. So, no Nigerian refugee was found in Benin Republic. In line with the various media reports and the reported National Assembly directive for NEMA to bring them back home, the MFA will be willing to support as appropriate.”
However, Aboyade said that the claim was untrue, accusing the government of playing politics with human lives.
He told The Punch, “It is just unfortunate that the government knows the truth but is trying to play politics with the human lives. Anybody can go to Benin Republic, we have been there to give them (displaced Ogun people) clothes, and other essentials.
“We have been to the palace of the king of Egelu in Benin Republic. We met with the councilors of Iganna in Benin Republic. These are the people who accommodated the refugees.
“Our Nigerian citizens are there sleeping in mosques, public areas and other places. They were displaced by Fulani herdsmen and there is no food for them and all their means of livelihood have been lost but in Benin Republic, they gave them food for a limited period of time thinking that the Nigerian government will come to their aid. But now that the government is not coming to their aid, the displaced people have no option that to go to the farms in Benin Republic for labour jobs.
“Nobody is at the villages back home; where will they go? Their houses have been razed by the Fulani herdsmen. Their means of livelihood have been destroyed. The Fulani herdsmen killed a number of the villagers, so how will those alive go back? They are not at the villages, they are in Benin Republic. The government envoy that visited the place should come and meet us and tell us that they didn’t see anybody there. The government should stop playing politics with human lives.”