Saturday, September 12

Ex-militants to Buhari - 'Develop Niger Delta or there won’t be peace'

Ex-Militants in the Niger Delta under the Third Phase Group has called on the Federal Government to aggressively pursue development of the Niger Delta to forestall another crisis in the region. 

The former militants, who flayed the actions of former Presidential Adviser to the President on the Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku, said that the call is timely as such failure in the past led to increase in militancy and unrest, which caused drastic drop in national earning.

They warned the current handlers to be mindful of what plagued the Kuku regime, claiming that the amnesty programme was a huge failure under its immediate past coordinator, Kuku.

The Ex-militants call was contained in a joint statement by National Chairman, Diepreye Ogbetebe; Vice Chairman, John Government; Secretary, Etarighobe Thompson and Delta State Chairman, Prince Ogor.

They spoke as another Niger Delta group, Egbema Voice in Warri North Local Government Area, Delta State, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call security agencies employing state apparatus to terrorize and harm the reputation of ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, to order.

The ex-militants said: “The Programme under Kuku specifically failed as a result of mismanagement of funds allocated for the programme by the Federal Government. Five groups under the third phase were marginalized and there were malicious diversion and deprivation of genuine and real persons that surrendered their arms and ammunition for which the slots were legitimately approved for.”

They also listed “incompetent, corrupt and unfair representation of Phase III by the so called self-imposed national leaders, deprivation/non-documentation of some of the ex-militants during the documentation exercise handled by inter-agency task forces in the various JTF barracks” as factors that hallmarked the past regime.

The group said that proper verification of arms and ammunition surrendered by various groups and war lords was not done before the allocation and disbursement of the 3642 slots to commence the Phase III of the programme.

“Despite the infinitesimal amount of the 3642 slots approved for Phase III, most of the camps that surrendered less than 20 guns were given up to 50 slots while some of the camps that surrendered above 50 guns were given three slots due to malicious diversion of slots,’’ they said.

Urging the current coordinator of the amnesty programme to look into the issues of ex-militant leaders and their foot followers in the Niger Delta region who were not documented, they said that such neglect was what led to frequent vandalization of pipelines and crude oil facilities in the region by various action groups in Ijaw and the rising Urhobo Gbagbako group.

They also called for immediate payment of all outstanding allowances to its leaders as well as train and engage them with gainful employments to reform and create a conducive environment for the nation.

Meantime, the Egbema Voice, in a statement by Chief Wilfred Elebiri and two others, said: “In as much as we are not opposed to the anti-corruption crusade of this government, we sincerely and will wholeheartedly condemn and fight any person or group of persons that will use the state paraphernalia to intimidate and humiliate our High Chief or any Niger Deltan.”

It continued: “We are making the call because the man, High Chief Ekpemupolo has not done anything that warrants such barbaric action. He is a leader in the Niger Delta with strong followership and he is committed to the freedom, justice, fairness and equal rights. Therefore, we cannot sit and watch while these group of people, all in the name of political vengeance, bring the name of our brother and the people of Niger Delta to disrepute.”

It said the actions of the agents/agencies of the administration, so far, were merely to discredit any person or persons perceived to be on the other side of the divide, adding, “these actions are deliberately targeted at the peace-loving people of Niger Delta whose resources these oligarchy has been feeding on all along.”

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