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), began the direct payment to former Niger Delta Militants in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The former Niger Delta Militants will be paid a monthly stipend of 65,000 naira including three months of unpaid stipends.
Colonel Abel also stated that the payments were being made directly to the former Militants rather than through the leaders of said group due to irregularities involved with the former method.
“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,” Colonel Abel said.
The payment which would last an entire week will cover allowances owed from October to December 2016. More than 2000 former Niger Delta Militants from different camps in Rivers state will benefit from the stipend.
He added that only 13,000 beneficiaries of the stipend had gotten either vocational training or formal education before President Buhari’s 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.
According to Colonel Abel, the remaining militants who have not yet undergone the programme will be trained in the following months. He also showed appreciation to Heritage Bank for its support towards the Amnesty programme.