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Bayelsa battles to evacuate, rehabilitate lunatics from streets

Before now, the streets of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, accommodated many mentally deranged persons, a situation that bothered people living in the state and…

Before now, the streets of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, accommodated many mentally deranged persons, a situation that bothered people living in the state and those doing businesses there.   

In the popular Tombia roundabout, which is the major gateway to the state capital, including Creek Haven, the Government House, mentally unstable persons were seen almost everywhere.   

Most times, some of them who were wild constituted danger to residents as they attacked people going about their daily businesses.

They also contributed to defacing the town, while their activities impacted negatively on the sanitation of the state capital.

Few months ago, a mentally deranged woman stabbed a 14-year-old boy to death. The victim, Joseph Thomas, was stabbed in front of their compound, along Genesis Street, off Okaka road. The incident and other activities of lunatics in the state capital threw residents into panic.

In 2019, at Akenpai community in Yenagoa Local Government Area, a man said to be mentally unstable hacked a lady to death and was trying to severe the body before residents of the area intervened and burnt him to death, alleging that he was a ritual killer who pretended to be mentally unstable.    

Also, there were situations where lunatics roaming the streets inflicted injuries on people.

Officials of the state government and medical personnel evacuating mentally deranged persons for rehabilitation in the hospital


Disturbed by the situation, Governor Douye Diri recently constituted a committee to evacuate people living with mental illness in the streets of the state, especially Yenagoa.   

The committee, which headed by the deputy governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has commissioners for women affairs and that of environment as members, as well as some medical personnel.

The state government said the action was to create a decent environment for business to thrive.

The committee swung into action last week and began the evacuation of people living with mental health disorders from the streets of Yenagoa and other locations across the state to psychiatric wards in the hospitals for proper medical examination and treatment.

The Commissioner for Women, Children Affairs, Empowerment and Social Development in the state, Mrs Faith Opene, who led a team to carry out government’s directive, said there was the need to keep the streets of the state capital safe.

Speaking with newsmen during the exercise, Mrs Opene assured that those living with mental health disorders would be taken to health facilities for proper medication.

She said, “We embarked on the evacuation of people living with mental illness on the roads and streets of our state to psychiatric wards for proper psychiatric treatment.

“Today, we have been able to evacuate 10 persons off the streets of Yenagoa; and they are receiving medical attention.

“When they are stable we will be able to get information from them and know where they came from. And if they are Bayelsans we will reunite them with their families. Those that are not Bayelsans will be sent back to their states.” 

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Environment, Iselema Gbaranbiri, who is also a member of the committee, said, “We have put modalities in place to evacuate people living with mental health disorders to sanitise the state capital and its environs.”

A trader at Swali market, Mrs Sharon Nengi, while commending the effort of the state government, said that over the years, mentally unstable people had posed serious threats to traders.

“We welcome the effort of the state government in evacuating and rehabilitating mentally deranged persons in the state. They were becoming too many in the streets and market places.

“When you tidied up your stall in the evening, before you came back in the morning, some of them would have turned to their dwelling places. And they would litter everywhere and destroy things.

“We spent time sweeping, cleaning and sometimes washing where they defecated. Those of us using open stalls were mostly the victims. It is good for the government to rehabilitate and turn them to better citizens,” she said.

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