By Samuel Oyadongha & Emem Idio
MBIAMA—Attempts by hundreds of ex-militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme to block the East-West Road in protest against their unpaid three months allowances was, yesterday, foiled by armed troops attached to the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta codenamed Operation Delta Safe, ODS.
It was gathered that the protesters, who converged at the Mbiama axis of the road in Rivers State as early 5a.m., were dispersed by troops of the special security forces.
Eyewitnesses told Vanguard that the presence of the protesters on the road caused severe gridlock on the highway before normalcy was restored.
An ex-militant youth, simply identified as Bob, who claimed to have witnessed the aborted procession, said though scores of ex-militant youths converged at the venue as planned for a peaceful procession against their unpaid three months allowances, “The soldiers shocked many of them with an ambush. They descended on them and flogged them with horse whips.”
According to him, many of the ex-militants beat a retreat, while a few others on their way to join the planned protest also beat a retreat.
“When I saw the rowdy scene, I retreated and went away. But it is not fair that we cannot express ourselves under this democracy. This is the second time soldiers have done this to the aggrieved beneficiaries of the amnesty initiative of the Federal Government,” he said.
While calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and ensure that the three months allowances owed them were paid, the ex-militants lamented that the attitude of the soldiers was malicious as they shot sporadically into the air.