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Ex-Militants Defy Gov. Dickson, Embark On Protest Over Unpaid Amnesty Stipends
Ex-militants from Bayelsa and Delta states have staged a protest over delayed payment of their five-month amnesty stipends by the Federal Government.
The protesters initially blocked the Mbiama-Yenagoa section of the East-West Road, a major expressway linking the South-South with other regions of the country.
Many travelers and other road users were stranded for many hours as motorists, commercial drivers and commuters got stuck in the traffic gridlock.
Heavily armed soldiers and other security personnel were present to prevent any breakdown of law and order.
It took the intervention of the Commander of the Joint Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, for the former agitators to back track and open the road to traffic.
Okojie urged the ex-militants to be patient with authorities, assuring them that their stipends would be paid to them.
Governor Seriake Dickson had on Sunday, July 3, appealed to ex-militants to be calm and exercise patience with the federal government over the delayed stipends, while also calling on the Presidential Amnesty Office to urgently pay whatever was due the ex-agitators.
Reacting to the protest, the Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Paul Boroh, a retired Brigadier General, said the delayed stipends of the ex-militants would be paid this week.
Boroh said it would be counterproductive for ex-agitators to take to the streets at a time the government was making serious efforts to resolve some of the issues confronting the programme.
He called on all agitators in the Niger Delta region to shun acts that were inimical to public peace, as such street protests could be hijacked by hoodlums to cause mayhem and discredit the programme.