A Group of ex-agitators, who were beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), held a peaceful protest at the Amnesty Office, Abuja, over their disengagement by the Coordinator, Prof. Charles Dokubo.
The peaceful protest took place in the office premises, Maintama, Abuja, on Wednesday.
The National Deputy Director of Ijaw Youths Council, Mr Adam Ogomugo, who led the protest said he was a beneficiary of the programme and employed as a Senior Re-integration Officer, but was affected by the decision.
Ogomugo claimed he had been in the office for over three years, and was deployed by PAP after his National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), to work in the Education Department.
“Every staff members were asked to fill form which I did likewise.
“As beneficiaries of the programme, we all have stake in the programme and therefore, cannot be disengaged without cogent reasons.
“Nigerians need to understand our plight; we are repented ex-agitators from the Niger Delta and we are already contributing our quotas to the development of the region.
“We are not lazy. We are product of PAP and therefore, should not be stigmatised by our own programme,” he said.
According to him, if the Amnesty office stigmatises and rejects its beneficiaries, what messages are they sending to the world? We no longer have hope in the labour market.
He added that the employment of only few of them into PAP were in fulfilment of the ongoing re-integration phrase of the programme.
Ogomugo said unfortunately, the few beneficiaries engaged by PAP were now being disengaged by the office for no just cause.
He pointed out that over the years beneficiaries were engaged in the office, adding that N65, 000.00 stipends had been stopped based on the exit strategy introduced by the former Coordinator Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh.
Also, Tarila Dei-Osi, an Industrial Manager, and graduate of South West State University Kursk, Russian, who was also disengaged said he was trained by PAP.
According to him, he was employed as a re-integration officer in the Monitoring and Evaluating Department of the PAP.
Dei-Osi said he was not given any proper or former notice before his disengagement, rather he was not allowed into the premises.
He alleged that he was removed because he is not a friend of the new administration by virtue of where he comes from in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa.
“I can’t explain how it all happened. They have not issued any formal letter of disengagement from the Coordinator over his recent actions.
“I have not been paid for over five months, yet they are indirectly asking us to go back to the creeks.
“We have resolved not to go back rather we will inform the whole world of the injustice that is going on in PAP.
Adi George, a beneficiary of the programme, said he came for a different thing but met his colleagues protesting.
“I am surprised this is happening to us as the true beneficiaries of the programme. The officials of PAP are here because of us the ex-agitators.
“The Federal Government is no longer encouraging us as its beneficiaries rather they appreciate us as agitators.”
He said the beneficiaries were trained in different skills both at home and aboard, and they are very capable of handling the office by themselves.
“Let’s not forget there was an agreement reached between the ex-agitators and the Federal Government in 2009,” he added.
He, however, urged the government to employ the beneficiaries of the programme and not to stigmatise them.
“We have first class and other qualified professionals among them, who can serve at any capacity, if giving the opportunity.
“We are not disgruntled elements as being acclaimed by some set of individuals in the society,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), spoke with the Special Assistant Media to the Coordinator of PAP, Mr Murphy Ganagana, who denied the fact that there was protest.
He, however, admitted the presence of some ex-agitators from phrase one, who he described as disgruntled elements.
Ganagana acknowledged that some ex-agitators were disengaged from the programme, adding that they were staff employed by the previous administration and were found unfit.
“Yesterday, we have some disgruntled elements and members of the first phase of the Amnesty, who came to make some complaints and some of them were part of the previous regime disengaged actually by the programme.
“They are not the only persons that have not been paid. Actually all the staff members were disengaged and those found fit were re-engaged.
“All those who were disengaged whether ex-agitators or not have not been paid,” he said.