by Rachel Ogbu
Some ex-militants who claim tp be part of thr extended second phase and third phase of the amnesty project after surrendering their weapons on Friday recently sued President Goodluck Jonathan to a Federal High Court in Abuja.
According to reports, this was because the ex militants were seeking to stop the expansion and or inclusion of victims of oil pollution as beneficiaries of the N63.281 billion the National Assembly for the demobilization approved and training of 3,642 ex militants granted amnesty by the Federal Government in the second phase and third phase of the programme, is generating rumbles within the ex-militants’ camps in the Niger Delta region.
They further argued that it is not the responsibility of the Amnesty office to cater for oil pollution victims, a responsibility they insist, belongs to the multinational oil companies engaged in oil exploration in the region.
The former militants led by Friday Burutu, were miffed that their names were conspicuously missing from the list of the 3,642 ex militants for whom the National Assembly had approved the sum of N63.281 billion after they had surrendered their arms and ammunitions to the federal government.
They accused the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman of Niger Delta Amnesty Committee. Kingsley Kuku of claiming that slots in the affected phases of the amnesty programme are, inter alia, compensation to oil pollution victims whilst they, the main ex militants who physically submitted arms and ammunitions were left out.
The aggrieved former arms bearers specifically contended that the amnesty proclamation of the federal government made pursuant to section 175 of the nation’s constitution on the 25th of June, 2009 was exclusively made for militants and not oil pollution victims and friends of the Kingsley Kuku, the presidential adviser or those of the President.
Section 175 of the constitution empowers the President to grant any person concerned with or convicted of offence created by an Act of the National Assembly a pardon.
While urging the court to restrain the President and his adviser from the planned expansion of amnesty beneficiaries, the ex militants pleaded with the court not to delay as they are reliably informed that any moment from now, purported ex militants which include oil pollution victims will be drafted to Obubara training camps to the detriment of the real ex militants who submitted arms and ammunition.
They further undertook to pay damages to the defendants if it is discovered that the relief they are seeking against them are not appropriate and insisted that it is in the interest of justice, promotion of peace and welfare, equality and good governance of Nigeria that their application be granted.
Others sued alongside President Jonathan and Kingsley Kuku are the Inspector General of Police, Chief of Defence Staff and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
Those who instituted the action alongside. Friday Burutu are Mr. Lord Onipa, Mr. Stanley Oduorie and General Justice D. Apolo.
The list of weapons they claimed to have surrendered to the federal government include 8 units of Dana guns, 6 rifles, 20 double barrel guns, 30 single barrel guns, 50 cartridges, 5 dynamites, 3 Egbesu juju pots, 25 axes and 45 daggers, as well as G3 machine guns.
The federal government under late former President Umar Musa Yar’Adua had proclaimed amnesty for the Niger Delta militants in June, 2009 in what had become known as the first phase of the amnesty programme. The proclamation ought to have ceased to have effect on 4th October, 2009 but was extended to what is being called second and third phase of the Presidential amnesty programme due to the teeming number of militants that were still in custody of arms and ammunition obtained through illegal means in the region and the increasing spate of militancy in the oil rich region.
As at the time of filing this report, the case file was awaiting assignment to a judge by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.