Scores of Persons Affected with Leprosy (PAL), on Monday, took over Emmanuel Uduaghan way (SUMMIT) in Asaba Delta State in protest of the backlog of their stipends and reduction in their daily meals by the state government.
It was a gory site as the lepers stopped vehicles and begged for arms in front of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Community Development on the road leading to government house.
They had stormed the ministry premises from the lepers settlement in Eku near Abraka at about 12 noon, demanding the payment of arrears and immediate increase of their stipend from N3, 900 to N15,000.
The lepers carried placards of various inscriptions some of which read: “Delay in stipends is causing death because of no food”, “we shall no longer take N 3,900”, “we need our four months outstanding stipends of N 6,000.”
Some of the ministry workers had to vacate the offices and quickly removed their vehicles for fear of being attacked by the lepers .
Chairman of the settlement centre, Mr Lucky Egbo, told the InsideNigerDelta that the members were faced with untold hardship more so when the government reneged on its obligation to them.
According to him, it was James Ibori administration that removed them from the high ways and paid them N 8,000 each.
Mr Egbo disclosed that the Emmanuel Uduaghan administration continued with the payment unhindered until towards the end of his tenure when he slashed the stipend to N6,000, adding that they were owed four months arrears before Uduaghan left office.
However, “when Governor Ifeanyi Okowa assumed office in 2015, he cut it to N3,900 and reduced our daily meal to two from the three times he inherited from the previous administrations”, he said, adding that the present government was owing them three months arrears.
A top management staff of the ministry, who preferred to be anonymous, had earlier told the lepers that plans were at advanced stage to pay them their entitlements even as he also admonished them to be patient a bit due to the economic down turn.