FG DEPLOYS SOLDIERS IN EX-MILITANTS CAMP
The Presidency has commenced investigation into Friday's revolt by some former militants at their orientation and rehabilitation camp in Obubra, Cross River State, Sunday Sun learnt yesterday.
A detachment of about of 150 soldiers has been deployed in the camp following the Friday protest.
Chairman of the Presidential Committee on the Post-Amnesty Programme, Mr Ndutimi Alaibe, confirmed the deployment of soldiers in a telephone interview yesterday afternoon and added that the situation was now calm.
The ex-militants were said to be protesting an alleged discrepancy in the allowances promised them and had reportedly attacked Alaibe when he visited the camp on Friday to address them.
His official car was also reportedly damaged.
But Alaibe said he was hale and hearty and that contrary to reports in a section of the media, he was not attacked. He said actually some of the ex-militants tried to foment trouble in the camp but the situation was quickly brought under control by the security personnel. Asked if the protest was politically motivated, the presidential aide said emphatically it was not about him, although he did not rule out the possibility of some people introducing politics in order to discredit the programme.
'You know we have a situation where there is a lot of mediocrity in governance and some people always want to play politics with every situation. 'But the federal government is committed to the post-amnesty progamme and has not made any promise to the former militants that it has not fulfilled. Those who spread the false information that they would be paid N350,000 as allowance instead of the approved N65,000 are just out to cause confusion. But I can assure you that they will not succeed,' he said.
A top security source, however, informed that the federal government was embarrassed by the development and that some of the former militant leaders will be invited for questioning. The source informed that they already had information that two of their former leaders in Bayelsa State (names withheld) were responsible for the uprising and that they would be quizzed.
Sunday Sun also learnt that the protest was instigated by some of their former leaders and colleagues from outside the camp, who had expressed dissatisfaction with the post-amnesty programme and had vowed to scuttle it. The Alaibe committee had initiated a new process of payment of allowances to ex-militants through the banks instead of the previous method of paying through their leaders.
Some of the leaders threatened by this new system, as it would erode their control over the boys, were said to have instigated the revolt to pass a message that they were still needed in the post-amnesty exercise.
According to sources, the thinking was that with the payment of allowances, the source of control over the boys would be lost.
Already, the nine identified ring leaders of the revolt from Bayelsa have been expelled from the camp.
Barely a week ago, chairman of the Niger Delta Committee of Ex-Militants Leaders, Africa Ukparasia, disclosed that they had been placed on red alert over a threat by the ex-militants against the new payment system.
'The new decision of the Federal Government to go back to the old system can only portend trouble. We have washed our hands off the control of the boys and handed their affairs to the federal government. We know the implication of this decision. Our fear is that since the government decided to pay them directly, in case of any problems, they should be held responsible as they are now dealing directly with the boys,' he said
Sources said some of the leaders have been drafted to the camp after the incident to intervene and talk to their boys.
One of the ex-militant leaders, Eris Paul (aka Ogunboss), confirmed to Sunday Sun that he was just leaving Obubra heading back to Yenagoa. Some of the ex-militants have also denied attacking Alaibe, saying the report was a calculated attempt to cause disaffection between them and the government.
Some of them, who spoke to one of our correspondent on Saturday at their camp, said such report would not only paint them in bad light, but would pit them against their kinsmen that have been fighting for their welfare.
In separate interviews, they said although they were not satisfied with the treatment meted out to them in the last couple of months but they welcomed the rehabilitation programme as it would afford them opportunity to re-adjust and live normal life again.
Reacting to the alleged attack, one of them, who gave his name as Bob Joe, said: 'Though a group of ex-militants actually stormed the camp on Thursday, July 1, 2010 and attempted forcing themselves into the place even when their names were not on the first batch of trainees, but it was not enough to generate confrontation with the coordinator let alone attacking him.'
According to him, 'it was not true that some of us attempted to attack our oga (Alaibe). Al though we heard that our allowance had been increased to about N350,000 and we confronted him outright, but he clarified it. So, we have no problem. We only hope that after the training we will be empowered as they promised.'
At the camp, officials refused to comment on the matter feigning ignorance Reacting to the development, immediate past chairman of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Dr Chris Ekiyor, has expressed sadness at the turn of things.
He identified delay in the implementation programme and disconnect among parties involved in the process as being responsible for the current threat to the programme. Ekiyor however condemned the attempted attack on Alaibe, stressing that since he came on board he has worked hard and fast-tracked the implementation of the programme.
He supported the expulsion of the ring leaders, warning that the ex-militants should not allow themselves to be used as a political tool but should focus on the rehabilitation programme that would change their lives.
Also the Action Congress (AC), Bayelsa state chapter has expressed displeasure with the events at the camp, stating that the attempted attack on Alaibe was 'unfortunate, unhelpful, sad and condemnable.'
…Pirates kill one, abduct 12 sailors in Rivers
From Henry Chukwurah, Port Harcourt
Pirates, at the weekend, attacked two cargo vessels in the Bonny axis of Rivers State, killing one of the crew.
Other crew men in one of the vessels, MV BBC Palonia, who are mainly eastern Europeans, were taken hostage by the sea robbers.
Although facts about the attack remained sketchy at press time, it was gathered that it occurred Friday night and that no fewer than 12 sailors were being held hostage. Already, naval authorities in the state have launched a manhunt for the pirates and their hapless hostages.
Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer, Dr Rita Inoma-Abbey (SP), said the commander of NNS Pathfinder in the state reported the attack to the police. She could not state the exact number of the abducted crew.
The police spokesperson stated that the Navy has deployed its personnel in Bonny to investigate the attack.
The attack has raised fears that pirates may be gradually staging a comeback to the state's waterways.