Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Former Niger Delta militants, on Tuesday, in their numbers, took to major streets of Benin City, the Edo State capital, to protest the non-payment of their two months allowances by the Presidential Programme on Amnesty.
The placards-carrying ex-militants warned elders and politicians in the resource-rich but impoverished Niger Delta region of the country not to meddle in the activities of the Prof. Charles Dokubo-led amnesty programme.
The protesters were armed with different inscriptions like ‘Give Us Our Housing Allowances’, ‘Prof. Charles Dokubo is the Rightful Man For the Job’, ‘We Are Niger Delta Ex-Militants’, ‘No Housing Allowances, No Employment and No Training in Edo State’, ‘Federal Government, Give Us Our Rights,’ amongst others.
Spokesman for the protesters, Gen. Pere Ejune, who is also the state’s Coordinator of the Edo State Amnesty Programme, said that undue interference from the elders was the major undoing of the former coordinator of the programme, Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh.
He said the elders and politicians contributed to the failure of Boroh when they hijacked the programme which was meant to provide for the former militants and oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta.
“Dokubo should concentrate on the mandate given to him by reaching out to the ex-militants and oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta.
“He should not allow the programme to be hijacked like in the past by politicians and elders”, he said.
One of the ex-militant leaders, Gen. Awe Akuke, who called for support for Dokubo, advised his colleagues to give the new Coordinator a chance, saying he was determined to better the lots of the ex-militants by paying them all their allowances.
He said it was cause for concern that many of the beneficiaries who were sponsored for training abroad under the amnesty programme were abandoned as their allowances were not paid.