Ex-militants, soldiers clash on East-West Road

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The Nation-

Protesting ex-militants yesterday clashed with soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Pulo Shield, on the Mbiama axis of the East-West Road.

They trooped to the road  about 7am to protest the non-payment of their allowances by the Presidential Amnesty.

The protesters led by the Bayelsa State Third Phase Amnesty Chairman, Mr. Ebi John, were said to have obstructed free traffic flow.

Travellers and motorists were stranded.

Shortly after they barricaded the road, military patrol vans and two Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs)  driven by armed soldiers  arrived.

The soldiers were said to have shot into the air many times to dislodge the youths from the road.

But the youths persisted in their protested and the armoured carriers went after them and in the process hit a woman who was caught up in the protest.

The timely arrive by some members of the Bayelsa State Working  Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by the Chairman , Mr. Tiwe Oruminighe brought to situation under control.

Oruminighe appealed to them youth to leave the road to avoid violence and bloodshed.

He said blocking the road was not a solution to their plight, promising that the leadership would seek to resolve the issues.

He said the Federal Government is  concerned about the problems of the Niger Delta problems, pleading out President Muhammadu Buhari be given time to solve them.

He said notable APC leaders such as former governors Timipre Sylva, Rotimi Amaechi and Edo State Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshomhole, would not let down the region under the Buhari administration.

Addressing them, he said: “We came here to talk with you to leave the road. It is a federal road and does not belong to Bayelsa State. If you block that road you are not helping the government at the centre which has come to create wealth for us.

“As brothers, I want you to understand that we need to join hands together to give small time to the government to create what we want.

“We have some notable sons and daughters that are already in this government such as Timipre Sylva, Amaechi, Oshomhole and many others who will be taking our matter to the President.

“I want to promise you that your matter will be taken to the highest level and will be addressed in the shortest possible time”.

Also yesterday, activities around the PTI Junction end of the East-West Road in Warri, Delta State were  grounded as members of the third phase of the Amnesty Programme took over the road while protesting the non-payment of their stipends for two months.

The protesters they would not located the Director of Finance and Accounts Ayoola  Peter to pay them.

The ex-militants, led by the National Secretary of their phase of the programme, Tam Odogwu, alleged that Peter’s cellphone went dead the moment the funds for the payment of the monthly stipends were released to him.

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The protest, which started around 7:30am, lasted about one hour, until the protesters were dispersed by a combined team of soldiers and mobile policemen. The rowdy situation disrupted both commercial and vehicular activities.

Addressing reporters, Odogwu alleged that there were still over 10,000 ex-militants awaiting their various reintegration trainings at  both home and abroad. He said they were upset over the demeaning treatment  which he claimed, may returned them to return to the creeks if  nothing was done to redress situation.

He pleaded with President Buhari to expedite payment of their outstanding allowances and make provisions for their trainings.

‘’We are fully in support of President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration but will not tolerate anything that will work contrary to his good plans for Niger Delta Amnesty Programme beneficiaries and we also beg Mr President to continue the programme until the end of his tenure in office,” he said.

The Amnesty Office, in a statement on Wednesday, said the delay in payment had nothing to do with Peter. It blamed it on the change of government and urged the ex-militants to be patient.

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