Niger Delta Militants threaten to return to Armed struggle over unpaid allowances

by on November 3, 2017

Aggrieved ex-Niger Del­ta militants have urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to direct the Special Adviser to the President on Ni­ger Delta Amnesty Programme, Brigadier Paul Borih to restore their names in the programme and continue their payments, or face unfavourable consequences in the country.

The ex-agitators made the demand in a letter to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which was made available to journalists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday.

According to the letter, the group frowned at the unfair treat­ment meted out to them by the Amnesty Office, by refusing to pay them their monthly allow­ance since October 2015.

Ikemini Markson, who is­sued the document on behalf of 56 former Niger Delta agitators, said they were the first batch of the Federal Government Am­nesty Programme, and won­dered why government sudden­ly stopped the payment.

Markson further claimed that there were over 300 ex-agita­tors facing the government’s deci­sion to put on hold payments of their allowances, saying that they had been exposed to unbearable hardship and dehumanisation.

He stated: “It is pertinent to note that, we are the rightful ben­eficiaries of the Federal Govern­ment Amnesty Programme’s first batch as captured in the original biometric compilation since its inception in 2009, and recipi­ents of the Programme’s monthly stipends up until October 2015, when our payments were abrupt­ly halted and our names surrep­titiously removed.

“It is with utmost pain, but with the greatest sense of respon­sibility and respect for law and order, that we make this humble letter to you. We are beneficiar­ies of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s Presidential Amnesty Programme. We are using this medium to inform you of the irregularities and cor­ruption that has eaten up the vi­sion of our late President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

“Despite all measures to am­icably settle this issue through several letters written to the office of the Special Adviser to the Pres­ident on Amnesty Programme, our members have remained un­paid till this very moment, culmi­nating in over two years of strife, hardship and penury, capable of pushing us into unwholesome practices long forgotten and abandoned by us.

“Our instant burden stems from the cries of woes occasioned upon over 300 of our members, of which only 56 beneficiaries are courageous to defend and fight for our rights.

“The 56 of us are not just or­dinary Nigerians; we are, as it were, youths struggling to out­live environmental, social and political despoliation, degrada­tion and other denials emanating from the operations of the extrac­tive industries and multination­al oil and gas conglomerates, who have taken over the Niger Delta land, waters and air through ac­tivities of flow stations, pipe lin­ings, spillages and gas flares. All of which will not know anything close to abatement soon. Un­doubtedly, life is certainly un­bearably short and brutal for all of us already,” Markson lamented.

The ex-militants warned: “It is, therefore, a matter of ur­gent national importance that you intervene expeditiously be­fore this drum full of gunpowder blows up to cause more pains and mayhem to our Niger Delta and nation.

“We, therefore, on behalf of our members, urge you to use your good office to speedily in­tervene in this deplorable situa­tion and ensure the prompt pay­ment of our outstanding monthly stipends and restoration of our names back to the Amnesty Pro­gramme by directing the office of the Special Adviser on Amnesty as soon as possible, as we are also open for negotiation and peace.”

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