Barely a week after a group of purported beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, under the aegis of Niger Delta Ex-agitators Forum (NDEF), petitioned the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, over sundry issues, an interesting twist is unfolding, as some of those listed as victims of the alleged fraud have disowned the petition.
On receipt of the petition, a copy of which was addressed to the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, he promptly directed an investigation into the allegations.
Following the commencement of investigation by officials of the Amnesty Office, a dramatic scenario is playing out as some of those listed denied knowledge of the petition. Among them is Amatelemowei, an Amnesty beneficiary whose name is number one on the list alleged to have been denied his financial entitlements and enlistment on a training programme.
However, checks at the Amnesty Office on the list of 61 persons attached to the petition indicated that it comprised 40 beneficiaries enlisted into the Amnesty Programme under Phase One, 20 beneficiaries under Phase Two, and a person from Akwa Ibom State not enlisted in the Presidential Amnesty Programme. Interestingly, out of the 60 persons on the list which were verified as beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme, 33 had already been trained in various areas awaiting empowerment, while the rest are on queue to undergo training soon.
When contacted on the development, some of the 60 persons listed on the petition denied involvement in the allegations by the purported group, describing it as the handiwork of some unscrupulous individuals with sinister motive. Among those on the list who disowned the petition, are Amatelemowei, Otutufegha Mike Waibode and Simeon Emmanuel, all of whom said they had completed their training programmes and were awaiting empowerment.
Confirming that he had not been paid stipend since the inception of the programme in 2009, Amateleowei, a beneficiary under Phase One, disclosed that he did not partake in the Disarmament exercise due to ill-health, and therefore, never bothered over the none receipt of monthly stipends till date. He said having completed training in a trade area, his prayer is to be empowered soon.
Murphy Ganagana, Special Assistant (Media) to the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, in a statement at the weekend, dismissed the allegations in the petition as laughable. He said it was unthinkable for someone of Prof Dokubo’s pedigree to be accused of diversion of monthly stipends for beneficiaries of Amnesty Programme or refusal to enlist them on training.
“While I can neither deny nor confirm that some unwholesome practices might have occurred in the past at the Amnesty Office, it is pertinent to note that all the issues raised in the petition had been there since 2009 when the Amnesty Programme started. If successive managers of the programme were not able to address some of the complaints of the 60 beneficiaries listed in the petition due to the fact that the allegations were acts of commission or omission by the beneficiaries, you cannot now turn around and blame Prof. Dokubo who assumed duties barely four months ago.”