Pay our stipends or face hostilities, 3000 ex-agitators to NSA - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Pay our stipends or face hostilities, 3000 ex-agitators to NSA

 Ahead of the May 29 handing over, over 3,000 ex-agitators, have called on the National Security Adviser, NSA, Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (Retd), to tell the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Maj-Gen Barry Ndiomu, to pay their seven months stipends running into seven months or face fresh hostilities.

The warning was in a letter addressed to the NSA with subject ‘Call for Urgent Intervention on Matters Bordering on National Security’and signed by Leader Julius Joseph and Dr Tam Odogwu of Phase 3 Amnesty respectively.

According to the letter, over 3000 of ex-agitators’ stipends have been suspended by Ndiomu on the premise of perceived irregularities, and if nothing is done fast they will result in the creeks and production of oil and gas.

The letter reads in part, “It has become very imperative to draw your attention to the lingering issue regarding the suspension of payments of more than three thousand (3,000) Niger Delta Ex-agitators under the Presidential Amnesty Programme as a result of perceived irregularities.

“There is a need to act without further delay by communicating this issue and our collective sentiment to the security authorities and critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta to avert the looming catastrophic crisis that would result from this impasse.

“It may interest you to note that over three hundred ex-agitators out of the affected number have been in Abuja for more than a month to meet with the Amnesty Interim Administrator, Maj. Gen Ndiomu (Rtd) for an amicable solution but all our peaceful attempts failed to achieve the desired result courtesy of Ndiomu’s leadership style.

“Sir, if this matter is not addressed promptly, it has the potential to snowball into fresh hostility in the region. Therefore, it would be germane for Ndiomu to be enlightened on the security implications of his actions. The amnesty programme is not a perfectly established institution bereft of errors or irregularities. Consequently, it is expected that any manager of the programme is duty bound to correct any identified irregularity for the good and betterment of those affected and not an opportunity to witch-hunt some persons.

“Sir, our position is not against Major Gen. Ndiomu (rtd) initiative to reform the payment system even though the policy is somehow selective, but the aspect of trying to collect or divert our guns slots (money) and send us back to the creeks. Major Gen. Barry Tariye Ndiomu (Rtd) was supposed to know that the Amnesty programme, though a security programme, had a formation pattern that is quite different due to the peculiar nature of the ex-agitators and the Niger Delta struggle that gave birth to it.

“It is imperative to state unequivocally that the formation was a direct engagement with the camp leaders who were in control in each of the phases. The guns for each group were also handed over by the leaders to the receiving authority and slots were given to the leader of each camp for allotment to the boys. One notable mistake at that point was the failure to verify or ask the number of boys in each camp before allocating slots.  

  “Sir, as individuals who are genuinely committed to the sustenance of peace not only in the region but in Nigeria as a whole, we have resolved to seek your intervention as there is palpable tension and we may not be able to control the boys if the government fails to address the issue with all sense of fairness and urgency.

“This is crucial considering the fact that the country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder waiting for implosion, resulting from the 2023 general elections. Sir, as the country is about to transition from one regime to another in a few days' time and the palpable tensions and acrimony birthed by the outcome of the elections, no form of uprising should be allowed to manifest no matter how infinitesimal because it might trigger other bigger problems.

“The total money for a month for the affected 3000 beneficiaries is N199,500,000 only, which is not up to what only one dubious contractor or some of the managers of the programme and some top amnesty staff collect in the name of this or that in a month.

“We therefore use this medium to call on you to come to our aid by directing the amnesty office to grant us our entitlements by either replacing the affected accounts or grant us bulk-payment since the multiple account payment system is no longer acceptable. 

"As mentioned at the beginning of this letter, we are still in Abuja, and may carry out another three peaceful protests before and on the inauguration day before returning if nothing urgent and meaningful is not done.  

“However, every attempt to make the Amnesty Interim Administrator understand the fact that there was no bad intention attached, rather a medium to ensure that we manage ourselves in order to help sustain relative peace in the region. We also promised to support him to figure out ghost or floating slots in the system if he is interested but he is extremely defiant."

They also alleged that, "The method Ndiomu is applying if not averted might cause great danger. It is on record that the Niger Delta crises and the recent avengers started when several attempts to draw the attention of the federal government to the area were not only rebuffed but crackdown and repression utilized.

“The situation reached a crescendo when the people in the region resorted to self-help by bombing, vandalism and other categories of militant activities which negatively affected the economy.

“In the same vein, the persistent neglect and continual refusal to sit with us and agree on the best modality to solve this problem that has lingered for more than seven months, thereby leaving the victims to self-help is a dangerous decision to take at this critical period.

“The decision to send over 3,304 ex-agitators back to the creeks should be circumvented at all cost because the consequences would be grave.”

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