By Samuel Oyadongh
Yenagoaâ€”A former militant commander with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, in Bayelsa State, Mr. Eris Paul, popularly known as ‘Commander’ Ogunboss, has called on the Presidency to probe alleged arrest and detention of 54 ex-militant leaders and youths in Rivers State.
He also urged the Presidency to investigate alleged diversion of funds allocated to the amnesty committee by the Federal Government.
The former member of the Upper Senate of MEND said though some of the ex-militant leaders in both Rivers and Bayelsa states have intervened and sent a save-our-soul message to the Presidency and some prominent people in the Niger Delta over the issue of the illegal arrest and need for probe of the Amnesty Committee, the delay in responding could cause a set back in the post-amnesty process.
He described the arrest of the ex-militant leaders in Rivers State and their detention at the Port Harcourt Prison after their acceptance of the Amnesty programme offered by the government as unfair and capable of triggering fresh hostilities in the region if not resolved by the presidency.
The former MEND commander gave the names of incarcerated ex-militant leaders as George Adamu, Wellborn Loveday and Loveday Samuel.
He said:Â Â â€œThese persons were arrested by those in the corridors of power contrary to the decision of the president and other stakeholders on the need to grant amnesty. They are being detained for crimes committed before the amnesty programme.
â€œThose arrested and detained are now getting huge sympathy from colleagues in the region. I spoke with some of them that came on solidarity visit and they were visibly angry over the issue and threatened to go back to the creeks.
â€œI had to encourage them and assure them that everything possible will be done to reverse these ugly and unconstitutional acts. They have been taken to court and we are asking the presiding judge to tell the nation where it is provided that after the acceptance of amnesty by these freedom fighters, they can be arrested.
â€œWe pray the issue does not escalate tomorrow. If they are not released, we donâ€™t known what will happen but we will continue to encourage those sympathetic to the travails of the youths to try the path of dialogue.â€
Commending the Federal Governmentâ€™s effort at re-directing the focus of the implementation of the amnesty and post-amnesty programme, Paul cautioned that those involved in alleged diversion of the N50 billion fund provided for the programme be probed.
The ex militant leader added:Â Â â€œWe know so much money was released into the programme but they diverted it. If we want to do the right thing, we must make sure people account for the money. Nothing is working as expected since then.
â€œThe initial agreements on amnesty, rehabilitation and disarmament have been reached but the other areas of reconstruction of coastal roads; rural development and building of new towns have not been reached. In fact, as I talk to you, allowances have not been paid to us or our boys for months.â€
He however announced that the newly constituted Presidential Committee on the Implementation of the Post Amnesty Programme has agreed to revert to the old method of the payment of allowances to the ex-militants through their leaders in each states of the Niger Delta.