THE North-South highway by the River-Niger-Murtala Muhammed Bridge along Lokoja-Abuja Road was yesterday blocked by suspected former Niger Delta militants, causing a major gridlock in vehicular traffic.
The blockade lasted eight hours from 4:00 a.m.
The former militants were intercepted by the police on their way to Abuja to protest alleged non-implementation of the agreement reached between them and the Federal Government as part of the amnesty deal.
Consequently, they have issued a four-day ultimatum to the government to implement the amnesty agreement reached with them or risk their going back to the creeks.
Meanwhile, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chief Executive of the Federal Government’s Amnesty Office, Kingsley Kuku, yesterday condemned the blockage of the Okene-Lokoja-Abuja roads by some Niger Delta youths, who claimed to be former militants.
Kuku, at a media briefing on the issue yesterday in Abuja, stated that the youths were not the responsibility of the Amnesty Office because they did not accept the amnesty offer, which closed on October 4, 2009.
According to him, the agitators were genuine youths of the Niger Delta, but did not belong to any known former militant camp in the region.
He added that they could not be admitted into the amnesty programme, as it has been closed since 2009.
According to Kuku, only President Goodluck Jonathan can order their admission, “and until he does so, the amnesty programme cannot include them.”
It was gathered that the militants, numbering about 1,600 in about 300 vehicles, comprising luxury buses, mini buses as well as cars, were stopped at Jamata toll gate check point by men of the Nigeria Police.
The incident caused heavy traffic gridlock along the Lokoja-Abuja highway before a combined team of Nigerian Army and police came to the rescue of travellers and cleared the obstructions.
It was further gathered that the leader of the militants, who identified himself as ‘Gen.’ Ramsey, told the policemen that they were on their way to Abuja to meet with the President to register their displeasure over their alleged exclusion from the amnesty programme.
Commissioner of Police, Kogi State Command, Amana Abakasaga, confirmed Ramsey’s story.
Ramsey reportedly said: “The government asked us to come out of the creeks and lay down our arms which we did. But since then, the government has failed to fulfill its own part of it but kept promising us.
“While we have embraced the amnesty programme, the Federal Government is frustrating it by refusing to pay us and we don’t want to go back to the creeks or pick up arms again,”
Ramsey reportedly added: “The 1,600 militants en route Abuja are all ‘generals’ who have foot soldiers under them who equally laid down their arms. Now the foot soldiers are skeptical of the excuses we are giving them because they believe we have collected the money from the government and only come back to deceive them.”