From Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
A group of repentant militants in Rivers State under the aegis of Peace Legend Life Foundation (PLOLF) said they have given Federal Government 10 day’s ultimatum to include them from the ongoing Federal government Amnesty programme or risk the demolition of all Federal government establishments in the state.
The group of 20 Ex-Militants made this declaration during their protest last weekend at their hideout called ‘Peace Barrack’ in Port Harcourt.
They said that if by the expiration of the ultimatum given and nothing happens they would disrupt the activities of Federal Government in the state.
The group, led by one Commander Cornelius Dickson, said the reason for this protest was to draw the attention of the members of the public and to seek the intervention of President Good luck Jonathon, the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, in their predicament.
They said they were asked to drop guns and become a good citizen, which was adhered to, but their loyalty has been betrayed as they neither participated in any amnesty programme nor been rewarded for obedience.
The Ex-Militants while chanting a war song said they are prepared to make the highest sacrifice just to ensure that their right is being protected.
They, however, threatened to introduce a radical action that would truncate peace in the state if nothing happen at the expiration of the ultimatum issued.
The 20 angry Ex-militants also called on the presidency to summon the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsdays Orubebe and the Coordinator of Federal Government Amnesty programme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, to explain why they were excluded from the amnesty programme.
The group recalled that in 2009 they were contacted to renounce militancy and come out for rehabilitation and reintegration, a call they heeded and were made to publicly participate in a renunciation and thanksgiving service which was organized at the instance of the Rivers State Government held at the Government House Ecumenical Worship Centre, Port Harcourt.
Commander Cornelius Dickson said he was made the Public Relations Officer of the House and Coordinator, Peace Legends of Life Foundation (PLOLF) when the rehabilitation started.
“We were the first militants that came out from the creek. My responsibility then was to assist government agent to call out the Ex-militant from their hideout and handed them over to the state government for rehabilitation,” he said.
“This is because at then you need a militant to get the militants out of his or her hideout,” he added.
He explained that on renouncing militancy, the State Government set up State Amnesty programme yet they were not part of it. His words: “Some of our mates were sent abroad for training even as of today training of Ex-Militants is still going on in different countries.
“When the state government set up their own amnesty we were very happy with the hope that we would be part of it but we were excluded.
“All they keep on telling us is that we are special people that the Federal government is going to train us abroad.
“Today we are requesting that the money that could have been used in training us should be paid into our account or there would be problem,” he said.
One of the 20 neglected ex-militants, Godspower George, disclosed that they were offered 20 slots by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) under the leadership of Elder Aginighan, the then Ag. Managing director, to travel to South Africa, including Canada for training but the offer did not get to them as different set of youths were put on the trip by managers of the programme.
He alleged that 80 percent of repentant Militants trained by Federal government Amnesty Committee including that of the state amnesty programme were not militants. “Have you seem those who claimed to be ex-militants, they don’t know how to speak the language of the jungle, they are brothers and sisters of the elite who were used to substitute the real militants,” he alleged.
“I know what we have suffered since we surrendered our guns and ammunition many things went wrong, promises were not kept, men were abandon and allowed to start a new life,” he said.
“But the question is how do we survive, do they want us to go into robbery or go back to the jungle,” he queried.
“We live in the society were people devote their entire life to how to make their family become the best even if it takes them to loot public fund they don’t care. But nobody cares about the other man who has nothing to eat,” he lamented.
“Now that we are helpless, crying for help to start something doing to help ourselves, will the help come, this is what we want the public to think about before we begin action,” he added.