Niger Delta militants before the institution of the Presidential Amnesty Programme

Hundreds of women from the Niger Delta region staged a protest on Tuesday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, against thirteen ex-militants youths’ dismissal from pilot school in Germany because of the federal government’s refusal to pay for their fees under its own Presidential Amnesty Programme.

The thirteen ex-militants were undergoing commercial pilot training at the Lufthansa Flight Training School in Frankfurt, but were last week sent away from the institution due to the nonpayment of their fees. Other Niger Delta ex-militants have also been sent packing by their various institutions in South Africa, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, and several more countries in Europe.

During their march to an office for ex-militant leaders called the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI), the protesting women said President Muhammadu Buhari should be held responsible if there is resurgence of violence in the Niger Delta region. “We are warning Buhari that, as mothers, we are already feeling the heat and the gathering of disgruntled youths in our communities. The refusal to pay the amnesty training fees is causing problems in our homes and communities," one said.

Another of the protesting women, Ebiere Ankiomete, lamented President Mohammud Buhari’s “refusal to appoint a substantive Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Committee to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Finance to pay the amnesty training fund.” She said that delaying until September to make the appointment would have drastic consequences for amnesty beneficiaries already enrolled in approved programs abroad.

LPCDI President and former militant commander Pastor Reuben Wilson appealed for calm but called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow the Presidential Amnesty Programme to be starved of funds. He noted the growth of Niger Delta oil production and its substantial contribution to the nation’s coffers, all of which depended upon amnesty payments.

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