A number of registered NGOs in Benue State have come together under a coalition with the objective of suing the Benue State Government to compel it to hand over the victims floods fund given to it by the Federal Government and several other Agencies totaling over N700m to the victims.
Recall after the devastating effect of last year flooding in Benue, over 11,000 registered individuals from approximately 4075 homes were affected. The Federal Government donated N500m to the victims of the fund, sums which were added to by donations from some northern states governments, corporations and individuals. About N700m was receipted.
One year after this assistance, the Benue Government has yet to disburse the funds nor state what use the monies were put to. It took a suit under the FOI law by a human rights Activist for Government to, a year later, begin the construction of drainages in the area to avert further disaster.
The Coalition of NGOs working in Benue find the diversion of the funds meant for this project a gross mis-application as Government has funds for the construction of drainages under the Ecological Fund. The Coalition views Government actions as shying away from its duty to provide, promote and protect the citizens rights to dignity of the human person as contained in several international charters Nigeria has signed up to.
The African Charter of Peoples and Human Rights, and Chapter IV of the Nigeria Constitution, all local laws in Nigeria, together with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, UNDHR, collectively read, compel Government of Countries and States to assist victims in the provision and protection of rights to live in dignity, inclusive of social rights.
While the Federal Government has lived up to this responsibility in efforts to provide and protect these rights, the Benue State Government unfortunately is denying the victims the fund held in trust meant to achieve this.
The Imo state Government in Nigeria recently handed over cheques of at least N3m to every household affected in the state from its share of the funds to its citizens.
The Coalition NGOs suing, signed up to an MoU to exhaust all legal avenues locally and internationally in seeking justice for the flood victims regarding the funds.