Order Amnesty Office to Pay Our Outstanding Allowances, Niger Delta Students Urge Buhari

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Muhammadu-Buhari

*Say educational pursuit better than armed struggle

Worried by the persistent refusal of the Federal Government to pay their allowances and stipends for nearly three years, the coalition of the 2017/2018 set of Niger-Delta Amnesty students, deployed to some universities across the Niger Delta Region have forwarded a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, asking for immediate redress.

According to the students, the petition became necessary to acquaint the president with the unjustifiable deprivation of payment of monthly stipends and other benefits due to them, contrary to the terms and conditions of the sponsorship agreement under the Amnesty programme.

Deploring what they called the perpetual refusal of the Amnesty Office formerly headed by Prof. Charles Dokubo, to pay them the mandatory monthly stipend of N70,000 and N40,000 per session for book allowance per student, the petitioners said the affected universities offered them admission having found them to be indigenes of the Niger Delta and qualified under the Amnesty Programme.

They noted, however, that the Amnesty Office then led by Prof Charles Dokunbo Quacker, who was appointed about a month after their admission, came up with different, vague and bogus plans, ostensibly to endanger their studentship and frustrate their lives.

In the petition copied the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Senate President, Senate and House Committees on Niger Delta Affairs, House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, the coalition said: “These orchestrated anti- people shenanigans were sustained all through his era with all manners of malicious, tortuous, ill-conceived and vindictive investigations and screenings without discovering any scintilla of illegality in our deployment! In spite of all, he bluntly refused to direct that our stipends be released to us.

“The agreement of the Federal Government of Nigeria with the said Amnesty beneficiaries includes, but not limited to the following: beneficiaries are to be dispatched to various universities, tuition fees of beneficiaries are to be paid by the Amnesty office under the auspices of the Federal Government of Nigeria; and beneficiaries are to receive in-training allowance of N70,000 each per month and N40,000 each per session for textbook expenses.”

While accusing the immediately past head of the Amnesty office of sundry illegalities, the coalition urged President Buhari to prevail on the Amnesty Office to pay all outstanding thirty two months arrears of stipends without any further delay.

“We are seriously apprehensive that anything contrary will frustrate us out of this laudable programme to the detriment of our desire for a better future. We have no doubt that this educational pursuit is a better alternative to the armed struggle we had been plunged into in the past by similar frustrations being unfortunately resuscitated and nourished daily while Dokubo held sway in the office,” they said.