Ex-militants storm gov’s office over unpaid stipends

EX-MILITANTS under the aegis of the Bakassi Volunteer Force (BVF), on Friday, stormed the office of the governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, protesting over the non-payment of three-month stipends.

Their grouse was that the state government had been insensitive to their plight by allegedly refusing to prevail on the Federal Government to fast-track the payment of their monthly stipends.

One of the ex-militants, who did not disclose his name, said that they decided to lay down their arms and embrace peace due to the Federal Government’s amnesty programme but that they had been treated unfairly.

He said they were at the governor’s office to appeal to the governor to prevail on the Federal Government to pay their three-month stipends.

The militants, however, dispersed after being addressed by a government official.

Reacting to online reports that the militants invaded the governor’s office and held the deputy governor hostage, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Christian Ita, said the report was false.

In a statement issued in Calabar on Saturday, Ita described the report as not only misleading, but a sad demonstration of ethical bankruptcy.

According to the statement, “the report is a regrettable sensationalisation of a peaceful protest by some ex-militants over their three months unpaid allowances by the Federal Government.

“The ex-militants were not armed and so could not have invaded the Government House. Rather, they were very civil in their conduct as they sought audience with the officials of the state government whom they hoped would take their message to Abuja.

“Once attended to, they peacefully dispersed. So it beggars belief that such a peaceful and innocuous protest would be reported as an invasion of the Government House. More ludicrous is the claim that the deputy governor was held hostage. No such thing happened.”

The statement concluded that Cross River remains the safest state in the country and urged the media to refrain from unnecessary sensationalism so as not to cause panic among members of the public.