Over 900 returnees have been received by the state government at a temporary shelter in Benin since January 8, 2018.
Some of the returnees, who were moved to Benin after their arrival in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, were seen grumbling about the amount, which they claimed was too small to take them home.
They lamented that their colleagues who were moved to Benin from Lagos State got over N40,000, while those from the Port Harcourt centre were allegedly told that they would be catered for by the Edo State Government.
The angry returnees also threatened to stage a peaceful protest at the Palace of Oba of Benin and the Government House but were dissuaded by some security personnel who intervened.
One of the returnees, Joyce Richard, lamented that the amount was inadequate to take her to her hometown in Orhionmwon Local Government Area. She, therefore, appealed to the state government to increase the allowance.
It was, however, learnt that the development compelled the government to later increase the amount to N5,000.
Reacting, the Chairman of the state Task Force on Anti-Hhuman Trafficking, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, blamed the protest on misinformation.
Omorogbe, who is also the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, explained that those who were received from Lagos came on a different arrangement.
According to her, the Lagos batch was provided with the sum of N41,000 on arrival by the European Union, through the International Organisation for Migration.
She also confirmed that the Port Harcourt batch had yet to be provided with any allowance, even as she added that the state had a stipend of N20,000 each for the returnees for three months.
While describing the protest as unexpected, Omorogbe said that the N5,000 was approved by the state government to enable them to get to their various destinations.
According to her, “What we have been able to do now is because of the proactive nature of the state government because no amount has actually been approved to be given to returnees at this stage.
“This amount (N5,000) is not a stipend but a realisation that the government is determined to make it (intervention) succeed.
“You cannot expect people to trek to their various homes, as many of them do not live in Benin. As such, we were directed to make a provision for the N5,000 transport fare that was not there before now.”