By Chioma Onuegbu – Uyo
Akwa Ibom ex-agitators phase 2 have accused the presidential Amnesty office of sidelining and excluding them from the various training and empowerment programmes provided by the programme.
The ex-agitators in a statement signed by its Leader Imoh Okoko and obtained by Vanguard in Uyo expressed disappointment that despite the huge resources from the state, part of which is used in running the affairs of the Amnesty office, Ex-agitators from the state were being discriminated against with no cogent reason.
It stated, “We wish to state for the avoidance of any doubt that Ex-militants of Akwa Ibom State origin have been sidelined, neglected and discriminated against, despite the huge contribution of our State to the country’s oil revenue, a great portion which is used for running the Amnesty Programme.
“Regrettably, our people have been excluded from the various training and empowerment programmes organised by the Amnesty office on the pretext that the names of our members are not in the Amnesty training database. Even overseas trainings are organised without the consideration of any person from Akwa Ibom State
“It is very disheartening to see people from other states undergoing training and empowerment programmes on a weekly basis, while those from Akwa Ibom State are being shut out without any cogent reason”
According to the statement, the ex-militants pointed out that the main objective of the amnesty programme was to train and empower Niger Delta ex-agitators to reduce crisis in the region.
They explained that the Amnesty office has refused to listen to them despite their complaints and demanded the reinstatement of their members whose names had been removed as beneficiaries of the programme.
“Despite our continued protests, Amnesty officials have consistently refused to listen to us. We hereby demand the immediate reinstatement of these affected members and the payment of all their backlog of outstanding stipends.”
In his reactions, the head of media, Amnesty office Abuja, Mr Murphy Ganagana, said the office has no right to sideline anyone from the training programmes because it is their right to be trained.
He stressed the need for the beneficiaries to be patient as training is the essence of the programme.
“The camp leaders will send the names for profiling for us to know. It depends on what you want to be trained on. For instance, people will want to be trained in welding. another person will like to train on hairdressing and another on shoemaking according to what their needs are.
“And maybe we need an average of one hundred people to go for shoemaking they will begin to profile all of them. Our people are not patient. It is the right of every ex-militants to be trained and nobody can deny them that right,” he assured.