…Asks Buhari to overhaul amnesty programme
By Chris Ochayi
The ex- agitators in the Niger Delta region have threatened to return to creeks in protest over alleged database distortion and misappropriation of Presidential Amnesty programme’s funds.
The rx-agitators, who staged a protest in Abuja, warned that except the Federal Government takes urgent step to remedy the situation, the crude oil exploration in the Niger Delta region would soon suffer a major disruption.
Operating under aegis of Association of Third Phase Ex-Agitators of Thought, ATPET, the group, which started the protest at the Mountain Fountain, also proceeded to the Amnesty International, AI, office, to register their grievances.
Addressing journalists during the protest march, Chairman of Association of Third Phase Ex-Agitators of Thought, ATPET, Mr. Lawrence Solomon called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately overhaul the Presidential Amnesty programme office.
Solomon accused the management of the Amnesty Programme of alleged corruption and distortion of names, while crying out that the entire programme has been hijacked by few cabals who have being manipulating the lists and the office for selfish purpose.
Worried by ugly trends manifesting at the Presidential Amnesty programme, the ex-agitators have suggested to President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a competent person from late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s immediate family to handle affairs at the office.
He said apart from distortion of ex-militant database, their empowerment has been diverted for ulterior motive and to the benefit of people who did not partake in the struggle to liberate the Niger Delta region.
Mr. Solomon, who said they have been oppressed by the office noted that, “Over these years we have disarmed as leaders, we have been paid flat N65,000 with our boys which is not proper.
For nine years now we have been on this peaceful process and they have not heard of any incident from our camp that we have burst pipeline or anything.
“We have accepted peace over these years and the government can attest to that because today multinational oil companies are celebrating increment in oil production. But look at us the ex agitators, who stood and fought for development we are not part of development.
Sometime last year we had meeting with the Special Adviser, SA, complaining about paying social security welfare, instead of that SA tricked us that we should go and put up companies that he is going to give us award but when it is time for award they now said they want to convert the money into cash, they converted this money into cash and they started to give this money to people we don’t even recognized.
“Some people among us working with the SA, we never elected them to become our leaders, they have been parading themselves as our leaders over these years and we have endured them but no good is coming to the Niger Delta, our trainings, our boys names are being removed from the database, so the database office should be investigated, Chief Brown and Co and every other person should the investigated.
“I am not here to tell you to come and remove the SA, what I am saying is that the SA should be compelled to do his work and the CSO must go because and Hausa man brought this amnesty to us to calm the peace and today the CSO and other unscrupulous elements working in that office are trying to deny us of our rights and entitlement.
“Look at the injuries the security men attached to the presidential amnesty programme are doing to us, during the peaceful protest just because we are asking for our rights.
“Anytime we go to the amnesty gate, as I am talking to you now we are afraid of going to that gate because the soldiers and the CSO and some other persons have connived to attack us every time.
“As we leaving here we are going to Amnesty International office to call their attention to come and verify we are genuine in the programme because we are coming with our JTF report and our documented ID card.
“In fact we need all database enrolling all militant camp into the presidential amnesty programme, we want to confirm our genuity, if civil servants retired of 80years can line up for their verification, how much we able men.
“They should come out with our database we need to verify the illegality, this is not a matter of corruption, this is criminal conspiracy, according to the former president of Nigeria Dr Goodluck Jonathan, he said it that corruption is not stealing and stealing is not corruption that is to say these two things are different.
“What is going on now in the amnesty programme is that they used our names to siphon money and the money never got to us the original beneficiaries, we are not going to relent in our quest to be empowered?
“We leaders of the ex agitators, we demand social security welfare from the amnesty office every month to continue to sustain the peace, you cannot sustain peace with empty pocket.
“We have been sustaining the peace over these years, the SA must pay all leaders social security welfare to continue to maintain this peace that we have been maintaining. Today multinational oil companies are celebrating increment in oil production.”
He said the Special Adviser went and gave people empowerment of N4million canoe; our wives have no empowerment since we embraced this peace, our children are not on scholarship. NNPC will give their children three scholarships per family, Shell will do the same thing but Amnesty Programme, we have no privilege rather they are removing our names from the databases, they are using their accolades to replace our name to send them for training.
“The database office must be properly investigated, we need the original certified document that they used in enrolling us into the amnesty programme else we will continue to agitate, enough is enough.
“After we hear from our leader, we are matching to amnesty international to call the attention to wagging, w need our UN code, we need our boys to be reintegrated into the amnesty programme as the original plan intends, anything short of that we will not accept.
“Our empowerment has been diverted, Charles Dokubo should be called to order, I beg President Buhari, the NSA, to investigate the CSO, we don’t want him there, if possible let them go to Yar’Adua family and look for a military man to come and become the CSO. The CSO has done enough he has to leave us, CSO must go.”