From GEORGE ONYEJUIWA, Owerri
Former militants, who embraced the amnesty programme of the Federal Government in Imo State, are threatening a showdown if their allowances are not paid in the next three days. The ex-militants, who briefed journalists yesterday in Owerri, the Imo State capital during a joint meeting of the Orashi and Enyimba camps, pointed out that the non-payment of their allowances since December had brought hardship on them and their families, saying they were unable to send their wards back to school after the yuletide holiday.
The leaders of Orashi and Enyimba Camps, Prince Emeka Igwe and Andrew Nwakotubu, warned that further delay in the payment of the allowances might disrupt the peace and tranquility currently being in enjoyed in the oil producing areas. They accused the National Assembly of trying to frustrate the efforts of the Federal Government on the amnesty programme, According to them, “the last time we were paid was December 13, 2012 and since then we have not been paid because of the delay by the National Assembly in passing the budget.
We have been holding back our boys who have been passing through financial challenges as a result of the non-payment of the stipend but after Friday we will no longer guarantee the safety of oil installations and personnel in the region.” Warning further, the ex-agitators, who commended President Goodluck Jonathan and his Special Assistant on Niger Delta Affairs, Kingsley Kuku over their commitment to the amnesty programme, stated that, “although we are happy with the success of the programme if someone makes a living from kidnapping and bunkering and you convince him to drop his arms and embrace the amnesty programme you should strive to keep your own part of the bargain or he will have no option than to return to his only means of livelihood.”
Meanwhile, another group of agitators numbering over two hundred from the oil producing areas of Ohaji/Egbema yesterday staged a peaceful protest in Owerri, accusing the Federal Government of excluding them from the third phase of the amnesty programme. Leader of the ex-agitators Andrew Edwin, said they were promised by the Federal Government during the arms verification that they would be included in the third phase of the amnesty programme He appealed to president Goodluck Jonathan to urgently address the act of marginalization and injustice against the South-East before it degenerated to breach of peace and security in Imo State and Nigeria as a whole.