By Odo Ogenyi, Uyo
Akwa Ibom government has commenced the evacuation of lunatics from streets in Uyo in a renewed bid to halt the proliferation of insane people in the Capital City and other major cities in the state.
It has also sent a strong warning to families and persons in neighboring States who have formed the habit of dumping their mentally-challenged ones in the State to refrain from the habit forthwith.
Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr. Ini Adiakpan who performed the flag off yesterday regretted that despite previous efforts by government to rid the state of such elements, it was embarrassing that their number has increased, becoming an eye sore and nuisance to residents.
Adiakpan emphasized that this year’s evacuation exercise which would cover the three senatorial districts became necessary as a reinforcement of government’s commitment to seeing that the state was rid of lunatics, so that residents and visitors could move without fear or harassment.
‘This is an annual thing. We do it every year. His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, makes adequate provisions for us to pick them. We don’t just pick them but give them proper treatment that have seen many become mentally stable and reintegrated.
“With robust collaboration with sister ministries in other States, many of them after treatment had been returned to States like Lagos and Enugu, empowered with start-ups, and made to reunite with their families.
“Akwa Ibom is too decent and beautiful a State to be dented by common sights of lunatics roaming the streets, causing havoc and disturbing the peace and privacy of residents.” The commissioner explained.
She said majority of the lunatics were from neighboring states, attributing it to porous borders but called on security agencies and related government authorities to optimize their game and ensure that the trend was drastically checkmated with stiff and workable measures.
“But we have a concern. We are allowing our boundaries to be too porous and we have people from other States bringing them here. We wonder why Akwa Ibom State is a dumping ground for mentally challenged persons.
“So it is my appeal that the youths, village heads, every person should keep their eyes open and when they see such messengers, they should be accosted and handed over to the police. If it demands prosecution we will do so and later repatriate them, especially now that Christmas by the corner.
“Government cannot do it alone. Social welfare should involve everybody. What’s happening is an eyesore. This is very embarrassing.” Adiakpan advised.
The commissioner said the lunatics would be taken to government’s psychiatric hospitals for treatment that may bring them back to sanity and possible reintegration in the society adding that more than 100 lunatics picked up by her ministry in the past were subjected to proper medical attention at the expense of government.