Ex-militants Invade Delta Oil Commission Over Alleged Neglect

Source: thewillnigeria.com

…As Presidential Amnesty Office Appeals To Protesters

BEVERLY HILLS, December 19, (THEWILL) – Hundreds of former militants in the Niger Delta under the auspices of Presidential Amnesty Phase Two on Thursday invaded Delta Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC) protesting the failure of the commission to include them in the Commission's empowerment programmes.

The ex-militants, who earlier barricaded the East-West Road in Warri over alleged delay in the payment of the monthly stipend, had barricaded the entrance of DESOPADEC for hours over what they described as prolonged neglect by the commission.

The ex-militants who blocked the DSC roundabout axis of the East West Road in the early hours of the day had prevented vehicular movement for hours before they dispersed and headed for the state oil commission premises along Warri/Sapele road.

”Enough is enough, we are tired of poverty, total poverty and lack of development, Ex-militants decry total neglect by DESOPADEC”, the protesters said as they displayed their placards.

The ex-militants who were prevented from gaining access into the commission's premises said they had written series of letters to the commission to dialogue with them all to no avail.

Led by one Augustine Ogedegbe, the protesters said DESOPADEC supposed to have included the ex-militants in their payroll, adding that the money from the commission would have complemented their N65,000 monthly amnesty allowance.

”DESOPADEC was created to provide empowerment for the youths in Delta, nothing has been coming to those of us who are under the presidential amnesty. Over four years now, we have not received anything from DESOPADEC.

”They know that we need empowerment since we laid down our arms, we have been working with the security agents by giving useful information regarding criminal activities in Niger Delta region.

”The little thing we have done here this morning has caused some little insecurity which is not good, if they meet our demand , it will spur us to bring more peace in the state,” he said.

An official of the commission who addressed the protesting youths described the protest by the ex-militants as illegal, saying the commission do not deal directly with youths.

According to him, the commission had given out N5 million yearly to each of the five ethnic groups in Delta.

He listed the five ethnic groups to include: the Urhobos, Itsekiris, Ijaws, Isokos and the Aniomas, adding that the money was paid through their respective commissioners in DESOPADEC for onward disbursement to their youths.

”Their gathering here today is illegal, we do not deal directly with the youths. By December every year, we release N5 million to each of the five ethnic groups in Delta through the various DESOPADEC commissioners to be disbursed to the youths in their respective areas.

”Every year, we also give out money to traditional rulers, pressure groups, community leaders and political leaders in the state,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Amnesty Office has reacted to the protest by the group of ex-militants in Warri.

In a statement by its Head of Media and Communications, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, the Presidential Amnesty Office appealed to former agitators in the Niger Delta and beneficiaries enlisted in the Presidential Amnesty Programme, who are protesting the delay in payment of the November 2014 stipend, to eschew violence and show understanding.

Alabrah said the Special Adviser to the President and Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, who had earlier notified the beneficiaries of the delay through published advertorials in the last one week, has intensified effort to ensure that funds for the November stipends and allowances of beneficiaries are released in the next few days.

“The Special Adviser has been in constant communication with the relevant ministry and agency of government in order to expedite the release and disbursement of our monthly allocation. He has firm assurances that the process will be completed in the next few days and all the beneficiaries will be promptly paid,” Alabrah said.

According to him, the delay was not peculiar to the Amnesty Programme and its beneficiaries as some states and Federal Government agencies were yet to also pay their staff.

“What this means is that we are in peculiar times that demand sacrifice from everyone. This is not deliberate.

“We know that we run a sensitive programme and do appreciate the pain and apprehension of the former agitators that this delay has caused. But we urged them to show understanding as their stipends had always been promptly paid in the past. We also appeal to them to halt further protests so as not to heighten the tension in the polity,” he said.