7 Nov 2012

Protest by about 200 ex-militants against their exclusion from the Federal Government Amnesty Programme heightened tension in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Tuesday.

The ex-militants, who blocked the entrance to the Niger Delta Development Commission office, disrupted work for over four hours.

The protest caused gridlock along the busy Mbiama-Yenagoa road,  creating  panic among traders who hurriedly shut down their business premises.

The protesters threatened to return to the creeks if the government failed to include them in the newly approved Third Phase of the programme.

They  threatened to attack oil installations in the state and other parts of Niger Delta  if the government failed to yield to their demand.

Policemen and soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force codenamed Operation Pulo Shield as well as the  State Security Service monitored the protest.

The security officials pleaded with  the ex-militants to stop their protest but they refused.

The National  Mobilisation Officer of the group, ‘Gen’. Ebi John, told reporters  that the group was protesting against the failure of the government to include them  in the amnesty programme.

He said, “We want the NDDC, Local Content Board and the multinational oil companies to prevail on the Federal Government to consider the Third Phase ex-militants in the amnesty programme or we may be compelled to return to the creeks.

“We will disrupt operations of the NDDC, Nigerian Local Content Board, NNPC and the Presidential Amnesty Office if the Federal Government fails to include  us in the amnesty training programme.”

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Fidelis Odunna, confirmed the protest.

The PPRO appealed to the ex-militants to shun violence and engage the authorities in dialogue  to guard against breakdown of law and order.

Source: Punch

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