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Thursday, January 7, 2016

FG Starts Direct Payment To Niger Delta Ex-Militants


President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has commenced the direct payment of salaries into the account of former militants of the Niger Delta region.
Leadership reports that the chief of staff in the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and Coordinator of the
Presidential Amnesty Programme, Colonel Dedis Abel (Rtd), launched the direct payment exercise in Port Harcourt, the Rivers Stare capital, on Wednesday, January 6.
The ex-militants were paid the sum of N65, 000 monthly stipends including the three months arrears owed them.
Colonel Abel hinted that the federal government has stopped making payments through leaders of the ex-militants.
“The Amnesty Office took the decision to pay the ex-agitators directly following reports of complicity and short-changing of some of them by the leaders. Reports revealed that some of the ex-agitators were paid as low as N20, 000 out of the N65, 000 which does not conform with the mandate of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“Henceforth, payment of the monthly stipend would be made directly to each beneficiary with focus to eliminate cases of fraud and short-changing by their leaders. Similarly, this exercise will enable us to collect biometrics of beneficiaries and to create Bank Verification Numbers to enable government to make future payments through their individual bank accounts,” Abel said.
The chief of staff said further explained that the week-long direct payment was to clear October, November and December salaries owed to over 2,000 former militants, drawn from different camps in the state and its environ.
He also disclosed that out of the 30,000 beneficiaries under the Amnesty Programme, only 13,000 had gotten either vocational training or formal education before this new administration.
“However, the number of those trained increased by 5,000 since Retired Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the Presidential Amnesty Programme five months ago. The 5,000 newly trained beneficiaries were sent to both local and foreign institutions and vocational centres to acquire knowledge and skills that would allow them become self-reliant,” he said.
Colonel Abel said the remaining 12,000 former militants that are yet to undergo the programme would be trained in the coming months, and thanked Heritage Bank for its collaboration and support towards the Amnesty Programme.
The Federal Government-led by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua granted amnesty to the Niger Delta Militants as part of a desperate effort to curb the restiveness in the oil rich region in 2009. The programme has reportedly gulped $1 billion.
But, Chief Edwin Clark recently urged President Muhammadu Buhari to take the Niger-Delta amnesty programme .
Meanwhile, former militants of the Niger Delta have threatened war if the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and director of radio Biafra,