By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
ABUJA-The Presidential Amnesty Office, yesterday, handed over to security agencies in Abuja 35 leaders of Niger Delta ex-agitators enrolled under Phase Two of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
A statement from the office said the arrest “became inevitable given the incessant harassment and intimidation of officials of the office, including the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, by these persons, to subvert the provisions of the 2012 budget and channel the allowances meant for 6,166 other persons in the programme to just these leaders.”
Head, Media and Communications, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, who signed the statement, said the ex-militant leaders had, last week, threatened to disrupt social and economic activities in sensitive governmental places in Abuja if the Transition Safety Allowance, TSA, proposed for 6,166 persons enrolled in the second phase of the amnesty programme was not immediately paid out directly to them and not to all the enrolled persons as enshrined in the 2012 budget.
“At this meeting, Mr. Kuku painstakingly explained to the leaders that the Federal Government will never accede to this demand to divert or channel funds meant for 6,166 persons to just the leaders, who are less than 100.
“Kuku further clarified in his discussions with the leaders that extant financial regulations do not permit any ministry, department and agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria to pay money to persons or services other than as clearly spelt out as a line item in the budget.”
According to him, the 2012 budget had a provision for the payment of a stipulated sum as TSA to each of the 6,166 persons enlisted in the second phase of the programme. He said some of the leaders of the ex-agitators were insisting that the sum so budgeted for the 6,166 be shared out to them alone.
Alabrah said: “All efforts by Kuku to persuade them to understand that their request was illegal and thus untenable failed as they continued to threaten to unleash mayhem in Abuja.
“The Special Adviser, therefore, resolved to hand the leaders of the ex-agitators to security agencies so as to nip in the bud any untoward act.”