The Cross River State Emergency Management Agency in collaboration with the state Food Bank Commission has distributed food and non-food items to over 1,000 Bakassi returnees that were allegedly evicted from Cameroon over tax issues.
Over 1, 000 evictees arrived Bakassi on July 6 alleging that the Cameroonian authorities introduced a new tax regime of an equivalent of N55, 000 per annum for every adult and later ordered those who could not pay to leave the country.
Distributing relief materials to the victims at the Bakassi Local Government Area secretariat in Ikang, the Director-General of SEMA, Mr. John Inaku, said that the items were provided by Governor Ben Ayade to ameliorate the plight of the victims.
Inaku said that SEMA was displaying the passion the governor had for his people, adding that the people were suffering as a result of the eviction.
He said, “Governor Ayade in his magnanimity has provided the affected victims with all these items. He has sent us here to deliver these items and to also urge them to be law abiding while other better options are being taken.
“We are also here to take care of our brothers who came back from Cameroon. They were chased out from Cameroon for obvious reasons; some of them say taxes and all of that.
“The returnees are from six states namely Cross River, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Ebonyi and Delta. We are here to share these foods and non-food items to them.”
The victims were given bags of rice, beans, noodles, garri, groundnut and palm oil, beverages, blankets, cooking utensils, mosquito’s nets among others.
Also, the Managing Director, Cross River Food Bank Commission, Dr. Mercy Akpama, said that the role of Food Bank in the state was to provide food for all Cross River state residents.
“When Ayade heard that Nigerians were pushed out of Cameroon, he had to send us here with these food items to deliver to them.
“These food items are for all the states represented here. Since the victims are all Nigerians, the governor had provided these food and non-food items for all of them,” she said.
The camp leader of Rivers State returnees, Mr Paul Boma, said that they were forcefully evicted from Cameroon for failing to pay tax.
“They levied us with a tax equivalent of N55, 000 per adult, we tried to negotiate the amount down to N25, 000, but they refused and asked us to leave their country if we cannot pay the money,” he said.
Other returnees also commended the state government for the succour provided and urged Governor Ayade to facilitate their resettlement plan.