Justice Isa Dashen of the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa has cautioned the officials of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, led by the acting Administrator, Milland Dixion Dikio (retd), against the adoption of delay tactics in the hearing of a nine-year-old legal action instituted by 19 aggrieved ex-militants from three states of the Niger Delta over alleged exclusion from the ongoing Amnesty programme.
Dashen, who gave the warning on Monday in the suit numbered FHC/YNG/CS/102/2013 following the excuses by the counsel to the Amnesty Office and the Federal Government, O. S.Ogared, that the legal department of the Amnesty Office is short-staffed.
Ogared also drew the irk of the presiding judge when he again claimed he is not in court with his legal diary with which he is to check the convenient date of adjournment and claiming that he needed an April adjournment to prepare for the suit since he was just briefed to represent his office.
Counsel to the aggrieved 19 ex-militants, Ibanga John, reminded the court of his earlier motion on accelerated hearing, which was granted, complained that despite their exclusion in the ongoing Amnesty programme, the plaintiff had been calm and pursuing their case against the more funded and large Presidential Amnesty office.
Banga John also moved for the inclusion of the acting Administrator, Milland Dixion Dikio (retd) in the suit to replace the former Administrator, Charles Dokubo. The motion was upheld after the objection of the Amnesty Office counsel was denied.
Justice Isa Dashen also adjourned hearing into the suit to February 15, 2022 after expressing his disappointment with the Presidential Amnesty delay tactics to resolve the case, “it is shameful on the part of the Amnesty office and quiet pathetic on the part of its legal counsel to come to the court without a case file. It is even more shameful that the lawyer came to court without his legal diary”.
The aggrieved ex-militants, Asenekiri Oyinle, Angiama-Owei Oyindoubra, John Government, Henry Gomeromo, John Sawyer, Trydi Okpeke, Dollar Motor, Selebi Ayowei, Bobra Angese, Ekerebi Umber and others, had dragged the Federal Government and the Amnesty Office led by Milland Dixion Dikio (rtd) over issue of non-inclusion.
While many others with similar issues of non-inclusion have been sorted out of court by the Amnesty office due to their alleged threats to resume hostilities, some officials of the Presidential Amnesty office since 2013 have been frustrating efforts to settle the ongoing suit out of court with the 19 aggrieved ex-militants.
According to the Ex-Militant leaders, in the suit numbered FHC/YNG/CS/102/2013, the Amnesty Committee erred by refusing to include them in the ongoing Amnesty programme after series of resolutions from meetings with the past and present National Security Advisers, Late General Owei Azazi and Col. Dasuki Sambo respectively, “Instead of respecting the resolutions and directives from the National Security Adviser, Dasuki Sambo, the Amnesty Committee turned down the call to include the ex-militants and adopted a divide and rule tactics with the inclusion of three out of the 22 persons”.
The aggrieved ex-militants in a statement of Claim against the Presidential Amnesty Implementation Committee had sought the Court order compelling the Amnesty Committee to approve reasonable slots for them as agreed at one of the peace meetings on 19th December, 2011.
“For the Court to compel the defendants to pay due allowances of the plaintiffs and their foot soldiers from March, 2012 until the plaintiffs are fully settled under the Niger Delta Amnesty Committee. To compel the defendants to immediately send the plaintiffs and their foot soldiers for the mandatory skills acquisition training for the Niger Delta militants.”