• No Funds Misappropriated –Amnesty Boss
Barely a week after a group of purported beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme under the aegis of Niger Delta Ex-agitators Forum (NDEF) petitioned the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara over sundry issues, an interesting twist is unfolding, as some of those listed as victims of the alleged fraud have disowned the petition.
Specifically, a Warri-based law firm had, on behalf of some unidentified persons acting under the aegis of NDEF, petitioned the National Assembly, alleging refusal of the Amnesty Office to pay monthly stipends and diversion of funds meant for training and empowerment of ex-agitators. The petitioners had attached a list of 61 persons said to be victims of the alleged fraud.
On receipt of the petition, a copy of which was addressed to the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, he promptly directed an investigation into the allegations.
A statement by Murphy Ganagana, Special Assistant (Media) of Amnesty Office said: “Following the commencement of investigation by officials of the Amnesty Office, a dramatic scenario is playing out, as some of those listed denied knowledge of the petition. Among them is Amatelemowei, an Amnesty beneficiary, whose name was number one on the list.
“Checks at the Amnesty Office on the list of 61 persons attached to the petition indicated that it comprised 40 beneficiaries enlisted into the Amnesty Programme under Phase One, 20 beneficiaries under Phase Two, and a person from Akwa Ibom State not enlisted in the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“Interestingly, out of the 60 persons on the list, 33 had already been trained in various areas awaiting empowerment, while the rest are on queue to undergo training soon.
“Contrary to allegations of misappropriation of funds by officials of the Amnesty Office and denial of the N65, 000 monthly stipends, records at the Amnesty Office indicated that all the 60 beneficiaries had not been receiving stipends since the inception of the programme in 2009.
“Findings revealed that while all beneficiaries enlisted in the Amnesty Programme were expected to fully partake in the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) processes, the 60 beneficiaries listed in the petition did not partake in the Federal Government of Nigeria Disarmament Exercises conducted and supervised by the Military Joint Task Force (JTF) in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
“But records at the Amnesty Office indicated that from the inception of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, payment of the N65, 000 monthly stipends to beneficiaries is strictly based on participation in the Disarmament process. Those involved only in the Demobilisation and Reintegration processes are not entitled to payment of the monthly stipends.