Some ex-militants under Phase 1 and 2 of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, reportedly blocked the East-West Road and the toll gate to Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, over the delisting of over 7, 000 delegates of the programme.
The protesters, who arrived as early as 5 am, accused the Presidential Amnesty Office of delisting some beneficiaries of the programme and its refusal to pay them their monthly stipends of N65,000.
DAILY POST, gathered that traffic was shut down leaving travellers and commuters stranded for over five hours.
The ex-agitators, who were said to barricade the whole of Mbiama Road, a border between Rivers and Bayelsa states, called for the removal of the Interim Administrator, PAP, Maj. Gen. Barry Ndiomu (retd), for incompetence.
The aggrieve ex-militants displayed placards with inscriptions such as “Ndiomu must go for incompetence,” “A man that doesn’t have oil in his community will not know the pain of the people,” and “Ndiomu stop dragging the progress of PAP behind.”
According to the Chairman Amnesty Phase 1, Mr Ebite Efiemi, Gen. Ndiomu delisted over 7, 000 beneficiaries from the programme immediately after he assumed office which shows he is not a man of peace, noting that he carried out his actions with the claims that “we are ghosts.”
He said: “We are warning that he needs to restate us back and our payment done, or else we will go back to the creek and resume hostility. We are handing down this warning before issues get out of hand. No names should be removed.”
The Chairman, Phase 2, Mr Paul Johnson, called for the removal of Ndiomu on the ground that he is causing more crisis in the region.
He said: “The late President Musa Yar’Adua, in his wisdom, created this scheme for peace in the region but the people in charge are messing the programme up. If we are provoked, we will cripple the economy, the message is simple to him and it’s clear. Look at the volume of what we are contributing to the nations compared to others, but when you go to our communities you’ll see people suffering so much amidst all this oil.
“Enough is enough, and if this matter is not resolved we will take actions that may not likely go down well with government. We have a blueprint that is not looked into, which we want government to address. The federal government has always approved billions of naira to the Amnesty Office but they mismanage and do what they like with our money. They should give us what is our entitlement. He has to leave the office for someone that is very competent”.
Another leader and a beneficiary, Mr Owopele, said: “The reasons given by the Amnesty Office for delisting some persons are flimsy and do not hold water, adding that if the issues raised by the office over the inclusion of fraudulent names are there then the government should call for a town hall meeting rather than delisting the names.”
They should call all parties and stakeholders involved so they can address the challenges.
Speaking further he said: “The treatment by the Amnesty Office on the Amnesty delegates is sheer hatred; we have been keeping the peace accord for over 13 years and five months now. Amnesty is a contract that was offered to us and we accepted it, but most promises made by the government have not been fulfilled. For the categories for stipend, we have the category of $500 for feeding and $700 dollars for training allowances which are gazetted into the programme, but we are amazed that nobody is talking about that, all we heard is multiple and dual name fraud.”
He further alleged that the programme was meant for 30,000 delegates across the region.
“But with what is on ground, the Amnesty Office is involved in some shady business which we want government to call stakeholders so we can address this issue,” he said.