AMNESTY PROGRAMME: 17 ex-militant leaders got N60bn – Presidential panel report

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…Says they retained camps after demobilization

By Kennedy Mbele

About N60billion may have been paid to 17 ex-militant leaders under the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) over the past 10 years, according to the report of the presidential panel that probed the activities of PAP.

Each ex-militant leader, the report, according to a Sunday Vanguard source, said, got N490,037,000 monthly to be paid to intended beneficiaries.

But the panel noted: “It is imperative to note that there is no mechanism to enforce payment of the stipends to intended beneficiaries by their respective camp leaders and pay their stipends directly into their accounts.

“This mode of payment could have empowered the camp leaders with sufficient funds to acquire arms that can be used to hold the Federal Government to ransom in the event the programme is closed”.

The report said the panel discovered that five vocation training centres were supposed to be built at a cost of N23billion, saying, however, that only three had been built.

The panel, the report said, found that PAP had been  corrupted with illegal removal and inclusion of names of beneficiaries of the programme overnight.

On training of PAP beneficiaries, the source quoted the report as saying: “There are beneficiaries being sponsored in foreign institutions which are not accredited and hence not recognised by Nigerian tertiary institutioms and the National Universities Commission”.

The Federal Government had, in February, suspended the Coordinator of PAP, Prof. Charles Soludo, and a five-man panel was set up to investigate the activities of the agency.

The panel is headed by the National Security Adviser (NSA), General Muhammed Monguno (retd).

The action followed allegations of fraud levelled against officials of PAP, dating back to when it was established 11 years ago.

The Yar’Adua administration had, in May 2009, established the Amnesty Programme to calm armed youths in the Niger Delta complaining of marginalisation in the face of their region’s producing the crude that provides the bulk of Nigeria’s foreign earnings.

But PAP has been dogged by all manner of allegations mostly bordering on misappropriation of funds.

On Abandoned Vocation Training Centres, the source said: “The Committee discovered that 5 vocation training centers were supposed to be built over the years for an estimated cost of N23 Billion for training of ex militants in various skills that will enable them to earn a living.

The training centers are located at Kaiama, Bayelsa State; Agadagba, Ondo State; Bomadi in Delta State, Gelegele in Edo State and Obuama, Harris Town, in Rivers State. The Committee discovered that in spite of these investments, only three of these centers at Kaiama, Agadabga and Bomadi have been built while those of Gelegele and Obuama are still at foundation level after the contractors absconded. Even the three that have been built, no single training has taken place in them hence, there are are underutilized and abandoned with government funds were wasted”.

On Payment of Bulk stipends to militant leaders, he said: “The Committee discovered that some militant leaders still retain camps with paramilitary structure despite undergoing demobilisation process which is the formal and controlled discharge of active combatants from armed forces and groups.

Consequently, 17 camp leaders are paid stipends in bulk sum, a total of N490,037,000.00 monthly for the last 10 years. The list of camps and respective monthly payments are at Annex B.

It is imperative to note that there is no mechanism to enforce the payment of the stipends to intended beneficiaries by their respective camp leaders and pay their stipends direct into their account. Hence, there are several petitions by delegates requesting the Federal Government to liberate them from their leaders.

This mode of payment could have empowered the camp leaders with sufficient funds to acquire arms that can be used to hold the federal government to ransom in the event the programme is closed”.

Vanguard

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Source: Vanguard News.

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