Fraud In Amnesty Programme Responsible For Niger Delta Avengers’ Attacks -Fred Timi | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Fraud In Amnesty Programme Responsible For Niger Delta Avengers’ Attacks -Fred Timi

Posted: Jul 17, 2016 at 4:06 am   /   by   /   comments (1)


Ms Timi Fred, is an Ijaw-born ex-militant leader from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. She is arguably the most prominent, woman militant leader in the days of the Niger Delta crisis before amnesty programme came on board. As one of the militia leaders in the region who voluntarily surrendered arms at the dawn of the Federal Government Amnesty Programme in 2009, Fred has been watching the gradual return to anarchy in her region and bares her mind to NICHOLAS UWERUNONYE


When ex-militant leaders are mentioned in Nigeria, they are normally seen more as men. It is rather surprising that you have a woman as a militant leader. How do you feel being a female ex-militantleader?

I am proudly an ex-militant leader who knows her onions and there’s nothing my male counterparts do in the creek better than I do. I swim better than most men; I am schooled in the art of the use of weapons until the Amnesty was declared and I fully embraced it and shunned all sundry activities of the militants. I was a force to reckon with. We were all in it together and when the FG opened the window for Amnesty Programme we not only accepted it but we turned apostles of peace.

 So what led you into militancy in the first place?

The criminal neglect of the Delta region by successive governments and its attendant effects on the lives of our people including I, led me into militancy. We the people of the region were neglected, even though the resources on which the nation depends is produced from our region. It was that anger that led other well meaning sons and daughters of the region into taking up arms.

 As a woman in the creeks of the mangrove forest of the Delta region, how were you able to cope?

I am proudly an Ijaw woman from the great Southern Ijaw Local Government area. All our lives as a people we lived in squalor, in mosquitoes infested environment, drink coloured water from the creeks since birth, eat bad food in a dangerously polluted environment and what have you. Relocating to the creeks was like moving to the next street. I was stronger than most men in our abode then.

What do you make of the renewed militancy in the region as it concerns attacks on oil and gas facilities?

I have mixed feelings towards the renewed violence in the region. If you ask me, the conditions given FG by the militants is to say the least annoying. Such conditions like granting freedom to Nnamdi Kanu and Sambo Dasuki, who are not sons of the region and are both standing trial for alleged crimes undermines the sincerity behind the renewed agitation of the Avengers. None of those conditions is in sync with the problems plaguing the region. How does Dasuki’s freedom put food on the table of the Niger Deltans? Our region is crying for development – both human and material. We need a Federal Government that will genuinely develop the people in whose domain the wealth of the nation is produced. Secondly, the renewed militancy is a demonstration of the resentment over the inadequacies that characterises the management of the Amnesty Programme. Ex-militant leaders are not equally treated and the inherent preferential treatment is the root cause of the violent reactions we witness today. Remove politics out of it, members of the Avengers had bottled up anger before they were goaded into blowing up pipelines. When you create anger and malice in the peoples’ mind, they become vulnerable and can easily be brainwashed into reactions.

Do you know members of the Avengers?

No, I don’t know them and would never know them because I dropped my arms long ago. The problem would not go if the government through the Amnesty office fails to right its wrongs.

What are the wrongs that the FG needs to put right?

Injustice, lopsidedness in the allocation of Amnesty slots, corruption in the Amnesty Programme, and delay in the payment of stipends to ex-militants, are wrongs crying for redress. How do you explain a situation where an ex-militant like me who surrendered large caches of arms twice with Certified JTF Report has just 4 slots while those who surrendered once have slots ranging from 1,000 to 7,000 depending on who your godfather is? Nepotism crept into the allocation of Amnesty slots. While genuine militants live below poverty level the political ex-militant leaders smile to the banks to the detriment of the genuine ones and this may snowball into a huge crisis very soon.

Are you saying your followers were not adequately co-opted into the Amnesty Programme with only 4 slots for your boys?

Yes, I have 1000 followers who are very strong men in the creeks. I spent a fortune to convince them to drop their arms then but for the fact that I don’t have a godfather under that government I was given only 4 slots. Now, you can imagine what happens to the rest 996 fighters. They are left vulnerable while some people are being paid by proxy for 6000 ghost ex-militants. If the benefits of the Amnesty Programme are evenly and sincerely spread across board, my brother, I bet you, militancy will be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, payments are done to big names who submitted long list of fake names and on this they fester. Paul Boroh happily pays money into their accounts knowing that those monies go into the wrong hands.

 Do you know the beneficiaries of the ghost ex-militants?

We ex-militant leaders know ourselves and we know those who are paid jumbo benefit for doing nothing. They take what belong to 6000, 5000 people to themselves with impunity. If the Federal Government can dispassionately investigate the fraud in the Amnesty Programme as it concerns payment of stipends, no Niger Delta youth would engage in a renewed hostility against the FG no matter the incitement from any quarter. I won’t mention names but a supposed man of God is one of the beneficiaries of this criminal allotment of slots.

Do you blame the FG for lackadaisical attitude in this regard?

Yes! Who else to blame? The FG left a window open for very few persons to live at the detriment of thousands of genuine ex-militants. The records show that the FG pays 30,000 ex-militants monthly. This figure exists on papers and not in reality. The truth is that if the FG truly pays 30,000 Niger Delta youths monthly stipends no youth will be available for any rascality. But the reverse is the case. This figure exists to better the lots of few ex-militant leaders who were able to concoct lists of fake ex-militants. I won’t mention names but these people who cornered the Amnesty benefits are very few and are also known to the managers of the Amnesty Programme.

Are you saying the Coordinator of the Federal Government Amnesty Programme, General Paul Boroh, knows those whose slots were awarded in questionable manner?

Yes, Boroh knows them because on several occasions we remonstrated to him but he played continuity on assumption office as he continued with the controversial template of fraud.

 So, what are your prayers to the FG?

I speak as General Mama T, my prayers to the FG is simply for this government to rewrite the history of that fraudulent Amnesty Office by correcting the anomalies created by the previous administration in the allocation the Amnesty slots. Doing so would spread the Amnesty slots across board reaching every nooks and crannies of the region. Tell me, are you saying some of these rogue had as much as 6000 followers in the JTF monitored creeks at that time? No, their lists were concocted for them to live in affluence while genuine ex-militants live in squalor. This opens ex-militants up for backsliding at any given opportunity just like we are seeing now. If you ask me, the FG should appoint a more acceptable manager who honestly will manage the Amnesty Office. Such manager must make honesty and sincerity his hallmark and must be a man who knows the terrain and generally acceptable by the people in the region especially the ex-warlords. The FG should as a matter of urgency pay up all the backlogs owed ex-militants so that the misconceptions against the government will be assuaged. Paying regularly as at when due the ex-militants will build an iron cast mind in the ex-militants against possible negative incitements by those who may want to use us as tool to settle political scores. Boroh should learn to be more truthful to ex-militants rather than deceiving us at every given opportunity. Procrastinating payments to ex-militants is dangerous just like corruption in that intervention program.

What is your assessment of General Boroh in the management of the Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government? Do you think he is doing well like others before him in that office?

General Boroh needs to do more than he’s doing now. He has been informed of the disparities and preferential allocation of Amnesty slots severally, yet nothing has been done. He also must work harder to shore up his popularity base among ex-militants across board and not patronizing few big names while undermining those who have no godfathers. No one is more militant than the others. We knew ourselves in the creeks then and coming to play politics with an interventionist program like the amnesty program could spell a doom for the entire system. Certainly, Boroh’s administrative style is not the best, others before him like Timi Alaibe, Kingsley Kuku were much better in inter personal relationship, consultations and management all of which earned them general acceptance by ex-militants across board.

 What do you have to tell those involved in the attacks on the oil and gas facilities in the region?

We are peace-loving people and we must live in peace. Those aggrieved ex-militants shouldn’t hesitate to engage this FG in purposeful dialogue capable of developing our region and its people. Government already knows that the youth of the region are no pushovers and can’t be bullied to surrender therefore, the time has come for us as a people to open the window of negotiation with the government. There is no war without end, this war must end. The Avengers have proven to be target-driven and visionary but the time has come for jaw-jaw as against war-war

Comments (1)

  • Jul 17, 2016 at 11:40 pm Chizy Abels

    List was compiled during Timi Alaibe and Kukus’s administration. Why is Boroh now the bad person to her? I smell a rat…..

Comments are closed.