Ex- militants enrolled into the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) under the Asaraba Pillars Camp (ASPC) Epebu community have lamented an alleged diversion of their monthly stipends valued at about N30m.
Investigations Wednesday revealed that Mr. Munalayefa Gibson, who leads the camp, is now a member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly representing Ogbia Constituency II.
It was also gathered that the ex-militants had not received their stipends since September 2017 and all efforts to get the money proved abortive.
The victims of nonpayment were said to have started raising the alarm over their predicament in December 2017 when one of the camp members, Nicholas Nathaniel, wrote to the then amnesty Coordinator, Paul Boroh, via an email.
Nathaniel in the document dated December 19, told the Presidential Adviser that they had not been paid for three months and their camp leader, Munalayefa blamed it on the opening of new accounts and the amnesty office.
But he said that they felt that the lawmaker lied to them following a discovery that a few members from the camp still received their stipends.
“The majority of the youths involved are angry and may soon engage in violent actions that will affect societal peace and tranquility if nothing is done”, he said.
However, Boroh’s response dated December 20 insisting that all members of the camp had been paid was said to have led to the suspicion that their money had been diverted by their camp leader.
It was also found that the ex-militants engaged the services of a legal firm, Stanley Damabide and Partners to write a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in January 26th accusing Munalayefa of fraud.
The legal firm in the petition requested the EFCC to investigate the matter with a view to prosecuting the lawmaker and his cohorts.
The petition specifically accused the lawmaker of working in connivance with some unnamed officials in the amnesty office to defraud members of the camp.
Investigations further revealed that after months of fruitless wait on the
EFCC to carry out due diligence on the matter, the ex-militants in June 13, 2018 wrote a fresh petition to the Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions in the National Assembly.
In the petition written by a legal firm, JUS Scenario and signed by Ndeze Anthony, the ex-militants lamented that nonpayment of their stipends brought untold hardship to them and their families.
They said despite confirmations that the money had been paid, no explanations were given why they had not received their stipends.
The ex-agitators appealed to the committee chairman to invite all the parties including Munalayefa to “unravel this unacceptable perceived illegality and ensure the payment of the withheld stipends”.
In another petition to the Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State, dated June 13, the ex-militants complained that despite all their complaints, all the parties involved in the payment of their stipends had done nothing to address the perceived injustice.
Still in a fresh complaint to the incumbent Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokuboh, the legal firm, JUS Scenario, said Munalayefa had yet to give reasons why the stipends had not been paid to the ex-militants.
“Our clients are further worried and uncomfortable at the response of Skye Bank each time they complain to its management of non-receipt of their monthly stipend that their accounts have been blocked”, the law firm said in the petition.
The firm in the document dated May 14 and signed by Ndeze Anthony asked the amnesty office to clarify the matter to avert resort to self-help.
Also writing under the auspices of Asaraba Progressive Foundation (APD), the ex-militants urged the Bayelsa Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, to wade into the matter and resolve the crisis.
The ex-agitators in the petition date July 26 and signed by Nathaniel, Gbalabho Kuroekegha and Mark Abaiaguo, demand immediate payment of their stipends.
They said: “This unfortunate incident of diversion and withholding about 11 months amnesty stipends kept the deprived aggrieved youths upset as it has brought about untold hardship in them and their families.
“Their children are dying and landlord are chasing these youths out of their houses as they cannot afford to for their bills. The stipend has been their source of survival and lack of payment is creating fresh agitation.
“For the records, GIbson Munalayefa was the camp leader until he became a member of House of Assembly. But he has always issued threats rather than pay attention to the plights of camp members”.
The ex-agitators further told the governor: “We are law-abiding and willing to cooperate with all legal and constitutional process to attain justice in Asaraba Pillars Camp. We will not succumb to the usual threats.
“But your office should be informed that if anything happens to Nicholas Nathaniel and the other persons, who are legitimately fighting for their rights, Munalayefa and others should be held responsible”.
When contacted, Munalayefa described all the allegations against him as false insisting that the petitioners were acting without facts.
He said: “These are false allegations without facts. Besides, l am not responsible for payments of amnesty salaries but the office in Abuja if they are genuine beneficiaries except they are ghosts.
“They are looking for means to further destroy my image because of somebody’s political ambition. The court will justify the truth by God’s grace. I am not the one that usually pay amnesty salaries. Everybody knows is political and I will sue anybody involved”.
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