16th June, 2010
A faction of Nigeriaâ€™s main militant group in the Niger Delta on Tuesday complained of poor reward after its surrender, warning the President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government thatÂ it might return to the creeks to fight if the situation continued.
The militants believe the Federal Governmentâ€™s amnesty programme has failed following the death of President UmaruÂ Yarâ€™Adua who initiated it.
â€œWe are now poor people on the streets. If government does not look into our grievances, we are ready to go back to the creeks to fight,â€ a spokesman of the faction of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Mark Anthony, told AFP.
Some 20,000 former armed rebels who were fighting for a fairer share of oil revenues to go to local communities, laid down their arms under an amnesty deal in the restive oil-rich region between August and October last year.
Under the deal, the government promised to provide amenities in the region, jobs and re-train the ex-militants.
â€œThe said amnesty has failed as the initiator of the amnesty died,â€ said a statement issued by ex-militant â€œgeneralâ€ John Togo, leader of the group, and emailed to AFP.
He was referring to former president Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, who died on May 5 after a protracted heart ailment.
Togo said he was speaking for himself, and nine other ex-militant â€œgenerals.â€ Togo complained that since he and other â€œgeneralsâ€ embraced amnesty they were being paid 65,000 naira (430 dollars, 348 euros) monthly, the same as their soldiers, describing the situation as â€œan insult and direct slap on the faces of ex-generalsâ€.
â€œHow can a general in Nigerian army barracks be made to receive the same salary with infantry?â€ he asked in the statement.He alleged that government had withdrawn the â€œempowerment contractsâ€ it gave to the ex-militants last year while only a few ex-militant â€œgeneralsâ€ enjoy government and oil companiesâ€™ patronage.
If this situation is not redressed â€œI want to say that is going to be the dawn of fresh oil war in Niger Delta,â€ he warned.
There is yet no official reaction to the groupâ€™s allegations.
Violence in the region from 2006 to last year played havoc with oil production which dropped to around a million barrels per day as against 2.6 million barrels at peak production level.