OKAFOR OFIEBOR/PORT HARCOURT
Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital was thrown into pandemonium today as residents ran for cover when about 400 former militants protested the allocation of training slots to them.
A car parked along Otiotio road was razed and the windscreens of no fewer than 12 cars were smashed.
Shops were randomly looted on this road and Mbiama-Yenagoa at Yenezuegene axis of the state capital.
This forced panicky shop owners the area hurriedly close their business premises. The panic caused a traffic gridlock, with many owners of vehicles caught up in the melee, abandoned them right on the road.
The quick intervention of the operatives of the Joint Military Taskforce(JTF), anti-riot policemen, members of the State Security Outfit,”Operation Doo Akpor “and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps to the scene restored some order.
Lt. Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu , the spokesman for the Joint Task force confirmed that the violence had been brought under control.
President Goodluck Jonathan last year approved training courses for 3,642 ex-militants, under the amnesty programme.
The violent protest started in the area when the Inter-Agency Taskforce headed by Air Vice Marshall Gbum on a verification exercise of ex-militants in the state reportedly told them that 15 guns submitted by a militant camp would be entitled to one training slot.
The ex-militants rejected the allocation formula.
Daniel Alabrah,the Spokesman of the Presidential Amnesty Office condemned the protest by the ex-militants, noting that the destruction of the vehicles was lawless and unnecessary.
Alabrah clarified that the Amnesty Office had no hand in the allocation of slots to the ex-militants, stressing that the Inter- Security Agency would only recommend number of slots to them after its verification exercise.
It was learnt that the Taskforce was appointed by the Chief of Defence Staff to determine arms submitted by the reformed militants.
One of the ex-militant leaders, who gave his name as Tonye Bobo, rejected the proposed 15 guns to each slot. He posited that all the ex-militants who had surrendered arms to embrace amnesty should be given a slot in the amnesty programme.
He said:” The federal government should abide by the agreement reached between late President Umaru Yar’Adua and the ex-militant leaders.The proposed 15 guns to one slot is unacceptable to us.”
“General” Ebi John,one of the ex-militant leader expressed reservation on the controversial slots proposed to the ex-militants, as he threatened more violence for the federal government.