Ex-militants warn of dangers in delayed amnesty stipends
• Militant Group Promises Showdown
EX-Niger Delta militants, under the Second Phase Presidential Amnesty Programme, yesterday, warned the Federal Government on the dangers of delay in the payment of their stipends.The ex-militants in a statement in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, urged the government to pay their three months arrears of outstanding stipends, so that the peace in the area would not be endangered.
Speaking on behalf of the militants, Ebina Salvation, in a statement urged President Muhammadu Buhari to see the amnesty programme as a security programme, to restore permanent peace to the area.
He noted that the existing peace in the Niger Delta was as a result of the amnesty programme, adding that the delay in the payment of stipends to ex-militants was a risk on the part of government. Salvation, therefore, pleaded with the government to release adequate funds to the Amnesty Office for effective implementation of the programme.
The ex-militant leader also called on the Federal Government to go back to the blueprint of the amnesty programme and implement its content, by ensuring constant interface between the coordinator of the scheme, Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh (retd.) and the ex-agitators.
He dismissed a statement credited to a factional leader of the ex-militants, Stephen Ebisintei, who allegedly threatened that they would shut down all Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) branches in the region over failure to pay their stipends.
Salvation restated that the Amnesty Office under the leadership of Boroh was doing well and therefore should not be blamed for the delay in the payment of their stipends.Also yesterday, the military reportedly freed the arrested ten students of Gbaramatu Grammar School, mistaken to be members of the Niger Delta Avengers.
The students were arrested when soldiers invaded and occupied Oporoza, Tompolo’s town, in June.The Gbaramatu community and women have severally protested the arrest of the boys at Oporoza. Meanwhile, a militant group, Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, has accused the military of launching full-scale invasion of Niger Delta communities in the guise of training exercise.
The militants said the method so far employed by the military in the ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ launched recently, has been unprofessional He said: “These unprofessional and ill-trained men have been feverishly engaged in a spree of blind arrests; just anyone that comes in sight, which explains the senseless arrest and parade of a septuagenarian, some teenagers and a pregnant woman as militants. Their eventual release by these oppressors, after being subjected to serious torture, intimidation and irreparable humiliation, is enough to prove to the Commander-in-Chief that all along they have no clue, as to what is happening, just doing everything anyhow.
“The Nigerian Army, in a bid to save face, announced the arrest of ‘the declarer of Operation Crocodile Tears’ and its spokesman, Gabriel Ogbudje. By the so-called arrest, these jesters are suggesting that they have finally reached the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate. For the avoidance of doubts, we do not know this Gabriel Ogbudje. He is not our member or leader.
“To prove to the world that the Nigerian armed forces have been engaged in a blind and random arrest of mostly innocent and helpless community people, we shall be making a very loud statement to intimidate the smiling crocodile