Ex-militants block East West road, urge FG to name Amnesty coordinator from Niger Delta
Ongoing review will benefit ex-agitators, media aide declares as group lauds reform
Niger Delta ex-agitators yesterday blocked the East-West Road in protest against Federal Government’s failure to adhere to agreements it reached with them on sending some of them to school and training some in skills.
The ex-militants, who reportedly barricaded the Mbiama and Ahoada axis of the road, also insisted that a Niger Delta indigene should be appointed as Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme following the suspension of Professor Charles Dokubo.
A leaders of the protesters, Bodmas Michael said the people of the region have suffered for decades and were in dire need of development like good roads, bridges and electricity, insisting that only a son of the region who feels the pains and neglect of the people could make the desired impact in the scheme and not an outsider.
“We want the President to appoint someone from the region as the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty programme, because our people have been suffering for very long time. We need good roads, bridges, human capital development and all round of development and so someone from the region who has the interest of the people at heart can make this happen.
“We are also here because the Federal Government failed to pay us two months stipends. Second, we want the government to send some of us to school as agreed. Right now a lot of us are at home due to the removal of Dokubo,” he said.
The Guardian recalled that the Niger Delta militants under the aegis of the Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), has alleged that something was wrong with the current architecture and supervisory framework of the amnesty programme.
The group at the weekend argued that two coordinators of the programme have been sacked for fraud within two years insisting that the latest sack was a ploy to cover up fraud in the scheme.
Due to the protest, motorists and other road users were stranded for several hours as no one was allowed to move into Rivers State or cross to the Mbiama axis of Bayelsa State.
Besides, Amnesty Programme has declared that Federal Government’s ongoing review of the programme will institutionalise and refocus the programme for the overall best interest of its beneficiaries.
A statement issued by its Special Assistant on Media, Murphy Ganagana, disclosed yesterday that this was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to deliver the gains of the Amnesty Programme through a transparent process that would ensure that allocated resources were judiciously used.
“The aim is also to ensure that the success of the programme lies on transformation of ex-agitators from militancy to actualising their aspirations, engaging in businesses and living sustainable livelihood,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Benin National Congress (BNC) has commended President Buhari for sacking Dokubo and declaring that the reorganisation of the programme was overdue.
It alleged that the programme under Dokubo was “reduced to a clan assembly in a village square where genuine concerns of other ethnic nationalities were flagrantly dismissed.”
In a statement issued by the group’s Director of Publicity and Intelligence, Dr. David Ekomwenrenren, it said, “Only concerns of the tribal lineage of the erstwhile coordinator were addressed.
Whilst cautioning against another ‘clannish appointee’ Ekomwenrenren said the group would resist “crass exclusion of Edo State youths in the incoming administration of the programme.”