By Jonathan Ugbal; Government House Correspondent
Militants Friday, stormed the governor’s office in Calabar demonstrating against the non payment of their entitlements for 10 months totaling over 15 million Naira and blockading the entrance as well as disrupting traffic in the process.
The state government however denied that it is owing the militants, claiming if it did, there was no point demonstrating as the state is currently facing economic challenges while the governor’s spokesperson denied reports of an invasion.
The militants, members of the Bakassi Freedom Fighters (BFF), CrossRiverWatch gathered, first camped at Mary Slessor Avenue as early as 6:00 A.M before leaving for the government house at Leopard road with one Clarkson Daugheri querying that “What do they want us to do? We have gone for training and come back, they are not paying us, do they want us to go and steal so that they will arrest us and lock us up”?
“This is going on also in Bayelsa, we are one in the struggle” said another who simply gave his name as Amos., “The federal government is supposed to pay us 65,000 Naira monthly per person while the state government is to pay us 1.5 million Naira as a group which when we share, we take home less than 9,000 Naira.
“The federal government is owing us 5 months” Amos said while Daugheri added that “The state government is owing us for 10 months. The state money is usually disbursed by the State Security Adviser while the federal government pays us directly into our accounts”.
Both claimed to be speaking on behalf of their leader, one General Franklyn Dakuku and warned every Nigerian will feel the brunt of their actions should they “change minds” if the state and the federal government defaulted on the deadline given to them which as at press time, was unknown to this reporter.
CrossRiverWatch gathered the militants were given 50,000 Naira for transportation and dispersed around 1:00 PM.
However, the state government denied knowing the militants as the state security adviser, Jude Ngaji told CrossRiverWatch in a telephone interview that government house Calabar was the wrong place for them to have come as the state does not owe them.
“The information that I got from their general, one Franklyn Dakuku was that he warned them, that he has finished talking to one Boro, I don’t know who the Boro is but I think it is the person in charge of amnesty in Abuja. He said something about having a letter to take to the federal government and they want to pass through the state government and all that.
“They cant say that the state government pays them, in fact it is supposed to be about 4.5 million but we don’t pay them, we pay the Army to pay them.
“I am surprised that they came there because there are not supposed to come there because monies are paid to the Army to pay them and that information they gave you is totally totally totally incorrect, the month just ended yesterday (Thursday), nobody is owing them any amount of money.
“If the stipend the state government is paying them is every month, are they saying that when once it gets to… yesterday was thirtieth, so immediately it was thirtieth and they didn’t get the money and on the first they came, that was stupid.
“By the way, there is no way we are going to allow anybody hold us to ransom that the federal government … with amnesty, what government was doing as a state was more of giving them a form of stipend to help augment what the federal government gives them every month and it is not aid to them every month and the idea of … months or whatever is a big fat lie, you can verify from the Army headquarters but I am telling you that it is a big fat lie , to the best of knowledge, I know that government has paid them” Jude said.
Efforts to reach Franklyn Dakuku proved abortive as several calls to his phone did not connect.
Meanwhile, Christian Ita, the spokesperson to governor Ben Ayade debunked claims that Government House Calabar was invaded by militants.
Ita in a statement issued Friday, described the report as “not only misleading but a sad demonstration of ethical bankruptcy”. The statement further read that, “The report is a regrettable sensationalization of a peaceful protest by some ex-militants over their three months unpaid allowances by the Federal Government.
“The ex-militants were not armed and so could not have invaded the Government House. Rather, they were very civil in their conduct as they sought audience with the officials of the state government whom they hoped would take their message to Abuja.
“Once attended to, they peacefully dispersed. So it beggars belief that such a peaceful and innocuous protest would be reported as an invasion of the Government House. More ludicrous is the claim that the deputy governor was held hostage. No such thing happened’’.
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