Niger Delta ex-agitators, under the aegis of Presidential Amnesty Phase II, on Monday threatened war over the Federal Government’s alleged plan to slash the 2016 budget for the Presidential Amnesty Office.
They argued that the proposed N20billion for the initiative was unacceptable to them.
The ex-militants comprise those in the 6166 Presidential Amnesty Phase II, 3142 and 20192 Ex-militants Phase III and Phase I.
While the protesters said the amount could not cater for their monthly stipends, they urged the Federal Government to respect the Memorandum of Understanding it signed with them.
The ex-militants in a peaceful protest around major streets of Warri, Delta State, on Monday carried placards with inscriptions such as “Senate President, beg President to leave the amnesty budget alone;” “We say no to the plan to reduce the amnesty budget;” “Buhari, please don’t force us to go back to the creeks;” “Saraki, leave our budget alone;” “Ex-militants reject the 2016 amnesty budget;” and the amnesty budget should increase and not reduce.”
Speaking to journalists in Warri, the National Chairman of the 6166 Presidential Amnesty Phase II, Aso Tambo, accused the Federal Government of allegedly reducing their monthly stipend in the budget to N20billion as against the N68billion budgeted for the office last year.
He said, “Our problem is that we have been receiving budget of this programme from October 4, 2009 till today and our budget used to be N86billion. Last year it was N68billion. But this year, we were reliably informed that the 2016 budget for the programme is N20billion
“If they are giving presidential amnesty programme a budget of N20billion, we don’t know what the Federal Government wants to use the money for because N24billion is what they use in paying the N65,000 monthly stipend of the 30,000 ex-militants. So, if you are giving a budget of N20billion, we don’t know what they want to use the money for. Is it for our stipend or is it to push us to the creeks to go and fight a war? Or they want to use the money to buy arms for us to go and fight Boko Haram?
“That is why we decided to stage a peaceful protest. We want to use this medium to tell the Federal Government that they should reverse the budget. We know what amnesty stipend is. Amnesty stipend is N65,000. When you multiply that by 30,000 it will amount to about N1.9billion monthly. So if you put it together in 12 months you will arrive at about N24billion and above. So we don’t know why the Federal Government has approved N20billion.”
Tambo noted that the alleged slash in their monthly stipends had reached “a provocative climax.”
The ex-agitators warned the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to leave the Amnesty Programme alone if it wants to sustain the peace initiated by the late President Yar’Adua in 2009.
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