JTF disperses ex-Niger Delta militants protesting non-payment of stipends

A detachment of troops of the joint military force deployed to the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, on Tuesday morning, dispersed hundreds of ex-militants who had blocked the East-West road with fire arms.

The ex-militants, under phases 1 to 3 of the amnesty scheme, blocked the Mbiama axis of the East-West road to motorists at about 6.30 a.m., Tuesday morning.

Respite, however, came to the trapped motorists when armed troops of the joint task force arrived in two patrol vans to remove the blockade and open the road to the public at about 7.30 a.m.

The soldiers fired several warning shots into the air, which compelled the protesters to scamper to several directions to safety.

Mr Elliot Seimiebo, an ex-militant, who is on the phase 1 of the amnesty scheme, said on Tuesday morning that the soldiers had used the firearms to disperse the peaceful protest, aimed at drawing the attention to the neglect of their welfare.

“We had renounced violence and remained peaceful in all our approaches; our intention was to draw attention to the nonpayment of our stipends for four months.

“We were not armed but the soldiers turned their weapons on us and there was confusion as people ran for their lives, one of the protesters was hit by stray bullet and got injured on his leg,” Seimiebo said.

When contacted, Lieutenant-Commodore Thomas Otuji, spokesman of Operation Delta Safe, said that the claims that protesters were shot was untrue.

“Our troops were sent to the scene to ensure free flow of traffic and they went there to clear the blockade on the East-West road and there is no such report at my disposal as we speak, the protesters were professionally dispersed,” Otuji said by phone.