Monday, September 7, 2009
Nigeria: Militants rampage over non-payment after arms surrender
Economic and social activities in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State were yesterday disrupted when over 200 disarmed militants from the camp of Ebikabowei Victor Ben, known as General Boyloaf, went on rampage on the streets over the non-payment of the money the were supposedly promised for surrendering their weapons.
The militants shot sporadically into the air, forcing residents of the city to flee for their dear lives. The militants also threatened to resume bombing of oil installations if the promises to pay them are not kept. But the quick intervention of men of the Nigerian Police Force saved the situation from getting out of hand.The Divisional Police Officer in charge of the Ekeki Police Station, Nimi Ewor, and the head of the police unit in the Government House, Mr. H. Debekeme were quickly deployed to persuade the agitated militants to stand down.
Observers said the action by the militants was a clear indication that they did not submit all their weapons. THISDAY gathered that troubled started when the militants matched to the Bayelsa Government House - all militant leaders are quartered here - demanding to see their leader, Boyloaf over the money promised them for surrendering their arms.
The former gunmen and their leader, Boyloaf agreed two weeks ago to halt fighting in return for clemency during a public ceremony in Yenagoa.They were however prevented from entering the premises by security operatives.The angry men went back to the Ebis Guest House where they were camped, dejected.The situation changed a couple of minutes later when the boys suddenly trooped to the street, an action that triggered a rampage as they started shooting sporadically into the air. They subsequently barricaded the only major road leading to Yenagoa, the Mbiama/Yenagoa Road for several hours.
The Military Joint Task Force sector stationed nearby refused to intervene even as the police team stayed a few metres away from the rampaging militants. Speaking to newsmen later, one Paul Innocent from Ekeni community said they belonged to the Boyloaf camp and that they were not happy with him. He claimed that Boyloaf promised each of them N10 million to surrender their arms, but was unhappy that since they were persuaded to drop their weapons, they had not been paid, instead they have been abandoned for over two weeks.
“Tell boyloaf to come and pay us our money. He promised us N10 million each, but we have not been given a kobo. “If he refuses to pay us, we will go back to the creeks. After all, we are the one who attacked Bakassi. We will go and burst pipelines. We will go and bomb again. Let them come and compensate us now,” he said.
By the time of this report, the agitated militants were still blocking the Ebis Guest House Road after being persuaded to open the main Mbiama/Yenagoa Road.Boyloaf, an ex-core commander for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), did not address the group nor could he be reached for comment.
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