From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Hundreds of Makurdi residents yesterday stormed the Benue state Ministry for Rural Development to protest the refusal of its officials to dispense kerosene to them under the Direct Kerosene Sales Scheme of the state government.
The protesters numbering over 200 trooped to the street bearing placards with inscriptions such as ‘give us kerosene’, ‘we are tired of waiting for too long’, ‘ give us our money back’.
It was gathered that over N200 million have been collected by the ministry from individuals to supply kerosene to them through the Direct Kerosene Sales Scheme, but it has failed to keep to the promise, hence they staged the protest.
Some of them who spoke with our correspondent, including AsenUka, Benjamin Loko and Eunice Audu, said they paid huge sums of money to the ministry for the product, even as they frowned at the attitude of the ministry’s officials, describing their act as ‘dubious’.
However, when contacted on phone, the commissioner for Rural Development, Aondowase Chia, denied that they collected money from buyers, maintaining that no such protest took place at the ministry.
He said the kerosene is meant for local governments in the State, especially for rural dwellers and not for people to hang around the ministry asking to been given kerosene.
“I am not aware of any protest at the Ministry. We did not collect money from anybody. The product is meant for rural dwellers, they should go to those places and get kerosene”, Chia said.
Meanwhile, there was heavy presence of policemen at the ministry even as the State Command’s Public Relations Officer, Daniel Ezeala, denied that there was any protest there, but explained that their men were dispatched there to maintain law and order.