27 January 2018

Nigeria: 'Niger Delta Militants' Protest in Ondo

Photo: Premium Times
Former Niger Delta militants protesting.

A large number of youth claiming to be former armed militants in the Niger Delta area of Ondo State on Friday protested in Akure, the state capital, over their non-inclusion in the extended amnesty program.

The youth, numbering about 500, also threatened to return to the creeks to bear arms against the government if they were not properly captured and included in the program.

The protesters stormed the office of the State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC), in Oba-Ile, Akure, set up bonfires and prevented free flow of traffic along the expressway.

They also prevented employees of the commission from entering the office.

According to the protesters, the government conducted a fake amnesty programme for them.

Mobile policemen were deployed to disperse the protesters, using teargas.

The protesters, who were led by their respective camp leaders, alleged that the amnesty window opened between November 9 and 21 last year was a sham.

The respective camp leaders who addressed themselves as generals, include Deji Williams (United Sea-wolf Avengers), Seamaco(Awaja Camp), Ebiee(Niger Delta Militant Vanguard), Mayowa (Dragon Camp) and Bbanju (Lion Camp).

They alleged that the Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, was using the amnesty program to build his political structure rather than using it to achieve peace in the region.

Speaking on their behalf, Mr. Williams said they regretted laying down their arms, as the Ondo State government deceived them into believing that programme was genuine.

"Right now, many of us are regretting the action of laying down our arms and ammunition because we could see a complete deceit and fraud in the Amnesty Program," he said.

"So, we are no longer interested in dealing with the Ondo state Amnesty Committee Program having lost confidence in them since the politicians in the state have hijacked all the slots."

The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Yemi Olowolabi, however, dismissed the allegations of the protesters, saying most of them were not recognised ex-militants.

He described them as a "group of jobless and disgruntled elements masquerading themselves as ex-militants."

Mr. Olowolabi said the number of ex-militants captured during the biometric exercise were 4000, saying the number of forms from Abuja was only 1000.

According to him, the leaders from the various camps were invited, and after deliberations, "harmonised and distributed the forms among themselves."

He said the amnesty program of the state government had received commendation from other Niger Delta states, insisting that majority of the protesters are not ex-militants.

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