Hundreds of angry Libya returnees in Edo State yesterday took to the streets of Benin, the state capital, protesting against what they described as poor welfare condition provided by members of the Taskforce on Human Trafficking and illegal Migration in the state.
The taskforce was set up by Governor Godwin Obaseki to take care of Libyan returnees of the state’s indigene.
They also took their complaint to the Government House, where they called on the governor to as a matter of urgency beam his searchlight on the activities of the taskforce.
According to the protesters, aside the fact that most of them were yet to start receiving the monthly N20, 000 stipends, the initial 600 set of returnees only got the stipend once.
They also accused the taskforce officials of organising a ‘face saving’ two weeks training on various skills for them without starter parks.
Spokesman of the protesters, Orobosa Odion, said they sensed something was amiss because each time they protested over poor treatment, the taskforce will quickly arrange little money called ‘transport fare’ for them to calm their nerves.
“How do you explain a situation where a would-be fashion designer will be trained for just two weeks? Is this not a scam? This people are not just taking us serious.
“The worst of it was the treatment we received during the training, where we were fed like beggars 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 promise is for each of the returnees to get that stipend for three months.
“We know the governor meant well for us but there is the need for him to have a close look at the activities of the task force.
But in a swift reaction, the taskforce yesterday debunked the claim of poor welfare being given to the returnees. It also blamed the returnees’ irregularity on their bank particulars as well as the fact that the taskforce was yet to get approval from the government for the delay in the payment of the stipend.
According to the accountant, Mr. Chris Ogbomo, “This protest is simply as a result of misinformation, 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, was meant to be basic training, they will still get comprehensive training.
“As for the stipends, we will pay as soon as the money hit our account, the taskforce 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,” he said.
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