19th October, 2015
Inmates of the Leprosy Rehabilitation Camp in Eku, Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State Monday stormed Asaba, capital of the state, to protest alleged short fall in their monthly stipend from the state government.
The inmates numbering over 500, and were armed with placard, blocked the entrance to the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, and partially barricaded Anwai Road leading to Government House.
Attempt to speak with the Chairman of the inmates was met with stiff hostility. But one of his members, Mrs. Arotule Hitler, who volunteered comment, said that their allowance was dropped from N8,000 monthly during the tenure of former governor James Ibori to N3,900.
She explained that the N8,000 progressively decreased to N2,500 before the present Commissioner for Women Affairs decided to upped it to N3,900, adding that their daily meal which used to be two times a day during Ibori’s era was reduced to one which, she insisted, was no longer regular.
“Ibori built the camp and started paying us N8,000 monthly stipend. He was also feeding us two times everyday. Uduaghan came and continued with the practice. It was in 2014 that he decided to reduce the stipend to N6,000.
“Then they reduced to N2,500, and recently they invited our leaders for a meeting where they promised to increase it to N3,900 with a meal daily. But last week they came with N3,000 instead of N3,900 which provoked us. So we are here to tell them that we will no longer accept the situation,” she said.
The Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Omatsola Williams, could not be reached for comment as she was not on seat during the protest.
But the Special Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Orientation and Social Development, Mr. Eugene Uzum, assured that the issues would be addressed immediately.
Uzum said persons living disabilities were very close to the heart of the present administration and appealed to the protesters not to return to the streets to be begging for alms, as machineries were already in motion to cater for their welfare.