Monday, 2 August 2010

Ex-militants cause unrest in Warri

Troops and two armoured personnel carriers from the armed forces' Joint Task Force (JTF) were deployed in Warri (Delta State) on 1st August to suppress violence that had broken out among an estimated 2000 ex-militants. A number of vehicles belonging to the Post-Amnesty Commission (PAC) were vandalised during the unrest.

Sources in Delta State report that the violence occurred after a number of ex-militants who had not been invited for the second phase of transfer to the Presidential Amnesty Camp (PAC) in Obubra (Cross River State) forced their way onto buses assigned to convey registered ex-militants to the camp.

PAC is currently overseeing the phased transfer of 20,192 former militants to the Obubra camp for 'Non-Violence Transformation Training'. This includes some 600 ex-militants from Delta, Ondo and Edo States, who were due to be transferred from Warri and other sites yesterday.

However, only those ex-militants who registered for the presidential amnesty prior to the 4th October 2009 deadline are currently eligible. Those who submitted for amnesty after this date are being quartered at numerous holding camps, PAC has yet to determine whether and how they should qualify for post-amnesty training and benefits.

Frustrations appear to be rising among former militants who feel excluded from the post-amnesty programme, and Nigerian media are increasingly reporting threats of a return to militant activity.

At present, there appears to be no consensus among ex-militants on responsibility for the perceived 'mismanagement' of the post- amnesty process. Timi Alaibe, Presidential Adviser on the Niger Delta, has faced criticism, while some ex-militants involved in the Warri incident also identified the non-engagement of former militant leaders in the grass-roots rehabilitation programme as a source of frustration.

The JTF presence in the Bayelsa State capital, Yenagoa, was reportedly reinforced on 31st July, after a series of armed attacks against the residences of a number of senior figures in the state, including the country home of Bayelsa Governor Timipre Sylva.

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© 2010 Menas Associates

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