By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT—THE Federal Government has said it will pay all ex-militants their monthly stipends directly, thus bypassing leaders who hitherto paid their boys after collecting bulk money from the Amnesty Office.
Chief of Staff in the office of the Special Adviser to the President and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Colonel Dedis Abel (retd), who spoke on the development, yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said that discoveries showed that some of the ex-agitators got as low as N20,000 monthly from their commanders instead of the N65,000 they were entitled to.
He said that he was in the state to make direct payments covering the months of October to December 2015, owed the ex-agitators.
He said: “The Amnesty Office took the decision to pay the ex-agitators directly following reports of complicity and short-changing of some of them by their leaders. Reports revealed that some of the ex-agitators were paid as low as N20,000 out of the N65,000 which does not conform with the mandate of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“Henceforth, payment of the monthly stipends would be made directly to each beneficiary with focus on eliminating cases of fraud and short-changing by their leaders. Similarly, this exercise will enable us collect biometrics of beneficiaries and to create Bank Verification Numbers to enable government make future payments through their individual bank accounts.
“However, the number of those trained increased by 5,000 since Retired Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the Presidential Amnesty Programme five months ago.
“The 5,000 newly trained beneficiaries were sent to local and foreign institutions to acquire knowledge and skills to become self-reliant.”