Ex-N/Delta Militants Protest Unpaid Stipends, Give FG 48-Hour Ultimatum | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ex-N/Delta Militants Protest Unpaid Stipends, Give FG 48-Hour Ultimatum

Niger Delta Avengers Suspended By Twitter
Posted: Jul 5, 2016 at 6:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

…Twitter Suspends Niger Delta Avengers’ Account


Igoniko Oduma

Yenagoa – Aggrieved ex-militants in the Niger Delta on Monday ignored the plea of Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa State governor, and blocked the Mbiama-Yenagoa axis of the East-West Road to protest the delay in the payment of their stipends by the Federal Government.

The action of the former agitators numbering over 150 resulted in disruption of traffic along the ever-busy road for some hours.

Commercial drivers and private vehicle owners were stuck in the gridlock for several hours as there were no outlets for them to make a detour.

Dickson on Sunday appealed to the ex-militants to be calm and exercise patience with the Federal Government over the delay in the payment of their allowances.

He also called on the Presidential Amnesty Office to pay urgently whatever was due the former creeks boys to avoid a disruption of “the peace and national assets.”

The governor in a statement signed by Mr. Jonathan Obuebite, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, stressed the need for all stakeholders in the Niger Delta struggle to “eschew violence and live in peace.”

Dickson assured them that the Federal Government would soon address their welfare.

But it was gathered that the ex-agitators shunned the governor’s appeal and arrived the Mbiama-Yenagoa junction of the road as early as 6 a.m. on Monday displaying placards and chanting solidarity songs.

They demanded the Presidential Amnesty Office to pay them their outstanding five months stipends.

The protest was said to have caused panic in the area as many shop owners refused to open for business for fear of being looted by some of the irate youths.

Heavily armed soldiers and other security personnel were at the scene of the protest to forestall any breakdown of law and order.

It, however, took the intervention of Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, Commander of the special joint security outfit in the Niger Delta, code-named ‘Operation Delta Safety, for the former agitators to stop the protest and open the road to traffic.

Okojie urged the ex-militants to be patient with authorities, assuring them that their stipends would be paid to them.

After his intervention, normalcy was restored to the East-West Road and socio-economic activities resumed, although some security patrol vans remained stationed in the area ostensibly for any eventuality.

In a related development, ex-militants in Edo State on Monday went on protest on the streets of Benin for what they alleged to be the way and manner they have been treated by the Federal Government and threatened to go violent if their grievances are not addressed within the next 48 hours.

The ex-warlords, who were peaceful in their approach, held placards on which they wrote their complaints.

They appealed to the Federal Government to review the amnesty programme, alleging that it was fast losing its relevance as a result of some incidences of corrupt practices that are fast creeping into the programme.

The protesters accused the Federal Government of owing them five months’ allowances, a situation they submitted has led to their living standard being drastically affected.

They accused the management team of the Amnesty Office under the leadership of Gen. Paul Boroh (RTD) of high handedness and insensitive to their welfare.

According to the ex-militants, the amnesty programme has been hijacked by some set of self-glorifying individuals who are just interested in lining their pockets at the expense of the major beneficiaries.

They gave the government a 48-hour ultimatum to look into their complaints or they would cause havoc in the state.

Meanwhile, Twitter on Monday suspended the official communications handle of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), @NDAvengers.

The handle through which NDA announced its birth months ago, had been a veritable tool through which the militants announce their activities, including attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta.

The oil installations attacked and announced on twitter included no fewer than five oil installations belonging to Chevron, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a fully-owned subsidiary of NNPC.

The account may have been suspended for violating some of the rules for opening and maintaining a twitter account.

A check on the Help Centre on the Twitter Home Page indicated that an account could be suspended for several reasons that include the need to maintain a safe environment for users.

While some accounts are suspended for circulating spammy or false information and thus pose security risks for Twitter and other users, other accounts may be suspended if the account is compromised by hackers.

In cases like this, the account is usually opened after twitter engineers neutralise the threat posed by the hackers.

Twitter accounts could also be suspended if it is reported to engage in abusive behaviour, like sending threats to others or impersonating other accounts. In cases like these, the account could be suspended permanently.

Militants in the Niger Delta rely heavily on the social media to disseminate information. The suspension of the Niger Delta Avengers’ twitter account could cause a major upset in the group’s activities.

The Twitter account with which the militant group announced the blowups has now been ‘blown up’, rendering it dump even if temporarily.

This is not the first time that an information platform of the Avengers would be shut down.

In early June, the official website of the militant group – www.nigerdeltavenges.com – was replaced by the error message: “‘404’.

That is an error. The requested URL was not found on their server.

That’s all we know.”

Less than 24 hours after the website went down, the group launched a new one  www.nigerdeltaavengers.org, claiming that “our website was not shut down. It was under maintenance”.

However, the website supposedly under maintenance never came back up, as the militant group continued to spread its message on the newly created platform.

In early May, in an effort to checkmate the activities of cyber criminals, the Federal Government announced it will set up a Cyber Security Advisory Committee.

The committee is expected to premiere the fight against cyber crime and give advice on the best way to protect national critical infrastructure against the cyber threat that may be coming both within and outside the shores of the country.