By Ike Uchechukwu, Vanguard
Former members of Bakassi Strike Force, BSF, numbering about 150 in the early hours of Monday blocked the entrance to the Cross River Governor’s office in protest of unpaid allowances and the government’s inability to fulfil the MoU it signed with them since 2018.
Vanguard gathered that it took the intervention of some leaders of the group who prevailed on their members, that the gate of the Governor’s office was not pulled down.
Vanguard learnt that the ex-agitators mostly dressed in black stormed the Governor Ayade’s office as early as 8am, unannounced and blocked the road, refusing vehicles to pass near the area.
The ex-agitators led by one “Timaya” created some scenes despite the presence of Policemen stationed at both gates and the road leading to the Governor’s office.
According to their leader, Timaya, they were protesting the non-payment of their money which was supposed to have been paid since December 2018 but which has not been paid till date.
“We are not going anywhere until the Governor settles us,” the ex-militants chorused, even as the Permanent Secretary in Governor’s office on Special Service (Security) Dr. Alfred Mboto, pleaded with them to allow the Government time to sort out their grievances.
After more than six hours of pleading with the ex-militants to go without success, Mboto sourced for N500,000 and gave to them, but they got angry and insisted they were not going to collect it.
An argument ensued which got Mboto angry and he left, only for some of the militants to hit severally at the gate with the Policemen as bystanders, before some of the ex-militants intervened and pleaded with their more vociferous colleagues to “stay action”.
Meanwhile, Mboto while addressing the protesting ex-agitators assured them that the State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, was working on their case and would call for a meeting with their leaders.
Some of them who spoke with Vanguard said the treatment by the State Government is unfair.
“After we laid down our arms in December 2018, we went for training and the Governor promised that we were going to be given starter packs and be integrated into the system.
“Instead of fulfilling his promise, the Governor went and put up a sign-post in Bakassi to say he has paid us. He has since refused to attend to us and we are very angry,” Timaya said.
When contacted, the Counsel to the ex-agitators, Ozinko Ozinko Esq. described the development as a sad one as Government has refused to keep the MoU it signed with them in 2018.
He told Vanguard exclusively that since the signing of the agreement nothing has been done for them adding that the training by ECOWAS/EU was a welcome idea but urged the State Government to do the needful.
“Remember that we facilitated an agreement in 2018, since then the Government has renegade on the MoU, as we speak many of them are going back to the creeks.
“We are using this opportunity to call on Government to do the right thing, I also want the public to know that the appointment of Ene Benjamin as SA is not a betrayal at all, we have kept fate since 2018,” he said .
On his part, Special Adviser on Amnesty to Gov. Ayade, Mr. Austin Ibok said that the training was in phases as packaged by ECOWAS/EU and all that was promised would be fulfilled.
“The program is in phases, they have done the training, the starter packs will be given when it’s time, no money was promised but all those who were trained will be empowered to do what they learnt from the skill acquisition program.
“Nobody who was trained will be left out, we have sighted different projects in Bakassi, Obudu and Boki under the ECOWAS/EU lite arms program, and the starter pack which will come in form of tools, gadgets and equipment will also be given,” he noted.
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