Ex-militants storm Obubra camp, insist on training

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Mudiaga Affe

No fewer than 400 yet-to-be-trained ex-militants, whose names were not included in batch 13 list of the on-going transformational training programme at Obubra, have cried out to the Federal Government to speed up modalities for them to undergo the training.

The ex-militants, who are not willing to take chances and some of whom came on their own to Obubra camp in Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River State, expressed faith in the amnesty programme after seeing changes in their colleagues who are currently in a different phase of the programme in South Africa, Ghana, and other parts of the world.

It was gathered on Tuesday at the Obubra camp that some of the former rebels pleaded to be allowed into the camp, but that the authorities did not yield because such huge numbers were not budgeted for.

This development came just as some ex-militants have asked the Federal Government to pay their allowances directly to their bank accounts instead of paying through any individual.

An ex-militant, Mr. Kurotimi Poki, who said he was from Asupa camp in Bayelsa State, said government should pay their allowances directly to them as he suspected that they were being short-changed.

He said, “The government should also give us what we want as we have accepted this programme. Let the FG not fail us. We love the programme, but they should pay us our salary direct. When our salary which is supposed to be N65, 000 comes, our commander will cut the money. Sometimes it is just N10, 000 that would get to us.”

Responding to the influx of ex-militants to the site, the Camp Manager, Mr. Kennedy West, told journalists that the scenario was so pathetic that “we had to appeal to them with some funds to carter for their transportation back home”

West said batch 23, which had 1,200 trainees in camp, would have their passing out parade on May 16, stressing that the initial hiccups experienced when the programme started had been drastically reduced.

“Because people have seen that the programme is a huge success, even those whose names were not on the list also came. There was an influx of uninvited trainees. Most of them joined their peers just to ensure that they partake of this particular batch. They were not enlisted. We had an overflow of over 300. They were not budgeted for. But when they came, management had to work on something to get them back and also give them stipends to buy one or two things on their way back,” he said.

On the issue of cut in allowances, West said the camp was not involved, saying “this has nothing to do with us. May be some of them had agreement with their masters, we are not part it. What we do here is that we make them to open account so that they can get their money directly and not through their commanders.”

In his reaction also, Mrs. Jennifer Nwachukwu, who spoke on behalf of the national co-coordinator of Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria, Mr. Allen Onyema, said the organisation has not received formal information about the alleged cut in the trainees’ allowances but that if the allegation was substantiated, government would look into it.


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