Militants Invade A’Ibom – Army, Police Repel Attack

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Scores of Ex-Militants from Mbo Local Government extraction of Akwa-Ibom State today, Tuesday, invaded Uyo, the state capital in protest over non-payment of their monthly allowances by the government.

The Ex-Militants blocked the Wellington Bassey Way leading to the Government House, Uyo to show their grievances.

The militants dressed in black T-Shirts and Black jean trousers with red scarves on their heads, Sang war song while they marched along the road. The protest disrupted vehicular movements thereby causing gridlock on the road.

It however took the combined efforts of security operatives comprising men of the Nigerian Army, the Mobile Police, Anti-Riot Squad and Civil Defence Corps who were on hand, to contain the protesters as canisters of tear gas were shot at them to disperse them.

Some of the protesters who spoke with our Correspondent alleged that the Akwa-Ibom State government was not taking the issue of their allowances and welfare seriously after they had been persuaded to leave the creeks and mingle with their kith and kin with a promise to pay them monthly.

One of them said: “As it is now, it is the government that has reneged on the agreement reached with us by not paying our allowances for some months now.

It appears they want us to return to the trenches which we shall not hesitate to do. But I can assure you that government would be at the disadvantage if we return to the creeks.”

When contacted the state Commissioner of Police Mr. Murtala Mani said the protesters were not militants but hoodlums who are bent on destabilising the peaceful ambience of the state.

He explained that his men who were on the street for a show of force did a marvellous job by dispersing them.

He warned that the Akwa-Ibom State Police under his watch would not condone any unlawful assembly and criminality.

Our correspondent who was on hand to report the incident gathered that protest by groups who hide under Militancy had become a regular occurrence as a month hardly passes without them taking to the streets to demand payment of their allowances by government.

It would be recalled that aggrieved ex-militants in Akwa Ibom State, who were granted amnesty since 2012, April this year, barricaded the entrance to Government House, Uyo, protesting their alleged neglect. The protesters numbering over 200, arrived Wellington Bassey Road leading to Government House with six Toyota Hiace buses about 12 noon, chanting protest songs and obstructing free flow of traffic for hours. The protesting ex-militants who prevented vehicles from entering or leaving Government House for four hours, insisted that they would not leave the place until the governor addressed them. Speaking to newsmen, their leader, Mr Ebong Friday, said they were angry because the state government had not done anything to ensure their inclusion in the Federal Government’s amnesty programme. He said: “Let the state government capture our names and send same to the Federal Government amnesty programme. All other states have been taken care of except Akwa Ibom ex-militants. “Since we laid down our arms in 2012, we have been neglected. This is our fourth visit to Government House without government attending to our complaints.” Addressing the agitators, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Murtala Mani, appealed to them to remain calm and be law abiding while pressing for their demands.

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