By Jimitota Onoyume, with Agency reports
PORT HARCOURT â€” THE Federal Government has commenced payment of arrears of allowances owed former militants in various camps in the Niger Delta.
Each repentant militant is entitled to an allowance of N65,000 per month for the period of rehabilitation.
There are two rehabilitation camps in Rivers and Delta States.
Former militants camped at Aluu, near the University of Port Harcourt, staged a protest on November 16 over non-payment of the arrears of their allowances and alleged neglect by government.
The Media Coordinator of the Amnesty Implementation Committee, Dr Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, said yesterday on phone that the payment commenced earlier in the day.
â€œAs I speak to you, the Federal Government has commenced payment of the arrears owed former militants at various camps in the Niger Delta region.
â€œNormalcy has also been restored at the Aluu camp, near Port Harcourt,â€™â€™ she added.
Koripamo-Agary said government was resolutely committed to the implementation of the post-amnesty programme and would ensure that the former militants were properly rehabilitated.
She declared: â€œThe delay in commencing the rehabilitation programme was caused by the leaders of the former militants.
â€œAt a meeting we held with their leaders, they asked for time to enable them to study the programme. They have not responded and we are still waiting for them,â€™â€™ she said.
The Coordinator urged the former militants to exercise restraint and patience, stressing that violence would not achieve anything.
â€œThe former militants should adopt peaceful means of conveying their grievances to government. We appeal to them to remain calm, because the programme is on course,â€™â€™ she added.
Meanwhile, some ex-militants yesterday clashed at their Aluu rehabilitation camp yesterday. But for the timely intervention of soldiers on ground, the development would have recorded casualties, some of the ex-militants told Vanguard.
According to the ex-militants, there are about five different groups being quartered at the rehabilitation centre.
They are boys loyal to Prince Amachree aka General Adekunle; boys of General J.J.; Osama Bin-Laden; Soboma George and others.
They said the clash erupted after one of the ex-militant leaders led about 20 boys loyal to him to attack another ex-militant leader at a drinking spot in front of the rehabilitation centre.
According to them, the situation almost degenerated to an orgy of violence but for the timely intervention of soldiers on ground who stepped in to calm frayed nerves.
They said the rehabilitation centre has already been divided along lines. They therefore urged the soldiers on ground to beef up security to avert a repeat of the clash.
Meanwhile, at press time, the ex-militants at the camp were still expecting their allowances.
They said they were assured that they would be paid that yesterday, but as at 5pm when Vanguard called, they said the Major who does the payment was yet to come to the rehabilitation centre.