Ex-militants Give 21-day Ultimatum over Unpaid Contract Fees


  Say refusal to pay N’Delta youths fuelling violence

By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

Some ex-militants who accepted the federal government’s amnesty deal in 2009, have accused oil servicing firms operating in the Niger Delta of fuelling violence by their refusal to pay huge sums owed contractors and by extension numerous jobless youths in the region.

The group, which described its members as ‘ freedom fighters, in a petition to the National Security Adviser (NSA),  Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), yesterday stated that the situation was causing restiveness among the youths.

The Iduwini Volunteer Force (IVF) in the letter copied other security agencies, therefore issued a three-week ultimatum to the management of one of the companies, owners of OML 88, Oriri Oil Field, to pay the contractors so they could settle their debts to the affected ex-militants.

“We have discovered very sadly and with utmost disbelief that the unending crisis in the Niger Delta areas can easily be traceable to the ungodly activities of these companies.

“Even local concerns who use their huge wealth and resources to fan the ember of violence and intimidate other indigenous contractors who render services to them,” it said in the letter signed by ‘Commander’ Johnson Biboye.

The ex-militants added that having transmuted into a volunteer force, it would ensure that all forms of injustices meted on Niger Delta youths would not be tolerated.

“As our name implies, we have used our little resources and wide contacts within the Niger Delta area in helping to ensure that peace returns to the  oil/gas region once again.

“It is in one of such moves that we discovered that an indigenous oil servicing firm with Exploration and Production License for OML 88, Oriri Oil Field, engaged the services of more than 12 indigenous contractors with a debt profile of over $10million and deliberately refused to pay them,” it added.

According to the IVF, “This unconscionable and wicked act was meted out to these contractors despite the successful and qualitative execution of various projects.”

It added: “90 per cent of the workforce of these companies are not only indigenes of Niger Delta but as of today have been drafted into supporting nefarious activities that are adding to the insecurity in the Niger Delta region.

“We took this upon ourselves to make a case for these indigenous contractors, who have suffered deliberate frustration, believing that if they are paid, some of the young men who are now  foot soldiers of several militant groups will have no cause to continue with such unholy alliance.”

The IVF maintained: “We do not believe in the use of violence again in resolving issues in the Niger Delta but looking at the situation critically, we are forced to issue a 21-day ultimatum to the said company to settle all the outstanding debts as it relates to the contractors or quit.

“There is no justification to come to our land, operate and cart away huge profits and yet enslave as well impoverish our people”

The group said it would prevail on the suffering indigenous workers who have not been paid not to take the laws into their hands “since we have officially reported this matter to you and believe in our group’s capacity to ensure that the right thing is done.”