By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa â€” Security was, yesterday, reinforced around commercial banks in Amarata suburb of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, as ex-militants protested non-payment of their allowances.
The scenario caused panic among residents of the area and other passersby on Mbiama-Yenagoa road and heavily armed security opera-tives, backed by two military amoured personnel carriers and several patrol vehicles, were deployed to the troubled spot to checkmate the protesting ex-militants from sacking one of the new generation banks.
Trouble, it was learnt, started in the early hours of the day when the ex-militants in their hundreds besieged the area noted for its high concentration of commercial banks to collect their allowances to celebrate the yuletide with only to have their hopes dashed.
They had earlier been directed to open an account with the bank from where they could receive their allowances, against the previous practice of cash payment at the Peace Park in Yenagoa.
Accordingly, a large number of persons who claimed to be repentant militants were said to have opened accounts with the banks, prompting the management to send the list to the amnesty committee in Abuja to verify the authenticity of the names.
Those who had already opened accounts, yesterday, besieged the bank for payment only to be told by the management that they were yet to receive confirmation of the names on the list from Abuja.
This development did not go down well with the aggrieved youths who threatened to disrupt the operations of the bank if the management failed to pay them their allowances.
Some unsuspecting custo-mers and passersby who ran into the chaotic situation were dispossessed of their valua-bles, including cash, by the irate youths.
With the situation almost degenerating into crisis point, the men of the Joint Task Force and the Nigerian Police Force were deployed to the area, backed by two amoured personnel carriers stationed some metres away from the bank premises.
The military and police operatives were also on hand to provide security for other banks in the area to prevent other unscrupulous elements from cashing in on the tensed atmosphere to rob the banks.
A bank official who spoke on condition of anonymity, blamed the agitation of the youths on ignorance, saying the management was only waiting for Abuja to vet the list of ex-militants who opened account with the bank to fish out those who might want to take advantage of the Federal Governmentâ€™s e-payment policy.
At press time, the situation was still tensed around the Amarata suburb of the capital city, as the protesters and the security operatives looked set for a showdown.