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Ex-militants storm Calabar, vow to return to creeks

By Agosi Todo, Calabar
25 December 2019   |   4:10 am
Former militants from Bakassi Local Council of Cross River State yesterday stormed Calabar in buses and motorcycles on their way to the governor’s office to protest alleged abandonment by Governor Ben Ayade.

Former militants from Bakassi Local Council of Cross River State yesterday stormed Calabar in buses and motorcycles on their way to the governor’s office to protest alleged abandonment by Governor Ben Ayade.

The ex-freedom fighters, who were stopped half way by a combined team of security agents along the IBB Way in the capital, disrupted vehicular movement, creating tension in the city.

Some of them, who threatened to return to the creeks, accused the governor of not fulfilling his promise one year after they laid up their arms and embraced the amnesty deal initiated by the state chief executive.

One of the aggrieved ex-militants, Ekpe Eyo Ekpe, a Calabar indigene, said: “We are here to see Governor Ben Ayade because he was the one who promised to do things for us and nothing has been done for over one year.

“If at all, we didn’t see him today (yesterday), we will do something that will pain him personally so that he can do what he promised us. He must do something. That is final.”

Another, Etemma Asuquo, from Bakassi, stated: “The reason why we are here is that since we came out of the creeks in December 2018, Governor Ayade has not fulfilled what he promised us. He promised to be giving us stipends regularly as well as send us for training. But since then, there has been no training and stipends. In short, nothing has been done.”

He alleged: “The houses we were staying, the Army has come to burn them, kill our brothers and fathers.

“It is one year plus now, we want to know why we are treated this way, because we know people from Bayelsa State who came to Cross River and were captured as ex-militants are enjoying amnesty from the state.

“They are still paying them N65,000 monthly. So what is our own benefit for our land, for our oil well? Nothing for us, no school, no road, no company, no estate. He had promised to give us an estate when we came out of the creeks but nothing has been given to us.”

The ex-fighter further claimed: Bakassi deep seaport not done, superhighway not done, yet we handed over our arms. If we wanted to sell the arms, we would have earned good money.”

Responding, the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, said: “We have cried out as a state government that our resources are lean and we will not be able to shoulder that huge responsibility. We have done all we need to do with the Federal Government to be able to incorporate the ex-militants from the state, nothing yet from the Federal Government.

“The governor has been making several appeals and still appeal that ex-members of Bakassi Strike Force be captured in the Niger Delta Amnesty programme.”

Meanwhile, the state council of the Nigeria Labour Congress has called on the state government to “as a matter of urgency, ensure that all agreements reached with the ex-militants/agitators in the state are implemented forthwith without delay.”

The organised labour, in a statement by its vice chairman, Comrade Lawrence Achuta, the secretary, Comrade Ita Ayi, said the appeal was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the state executive council meeting held on December 23, 2019 in Calabar.