Etim Ekpimah, Uyo

The Joint Task Force comprising the military, riot policemen, the anti-bomb squad and others, on Tuesday prevented repentant militants from attacking the Akwa Ibom State Government House, Uyo.

The JTF dispersed a group of fierce-looking militants, who gathered around the Governor’s Office by Wellington Bassey Way in the state capital, to continue with their regular protest against non-inclusion in the Amnesty programme of the Federal Government.

The protest by the militants which began in the morning led to the condoning of all the adjourning streets near the Governor’s Office by security operatives who opened tear gas canisters to weaken and drive away the protesting militants. The militants insisted on seeing the state Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
Our correspondent learnt that while the policemen were pacifying the militants who numbered over 100 to vacate the vicinity, the militants on their part were threatening violence. They insisted on having an immediate audience with the governor. They also argued that past attempts to resolve the issue had not yielded results.

Some members of the militant groups insisted that their counterparts from other Niger Delta states have been paid, noting that it was only in Akwa Ibom that their demands had met a stone wall.

“We have made our demands known over the years. We have been coming here repeatedly, but there has been no positive response from the state government,” one of the militants was quoted as saying.

It was gathered that as all attempts by the security operatives to prevent the militants from insisting on seeing the governor fell on deaf eyes, a volley of tear gas canisters got fired which sent the militants running away in various directions.

The opening of tear gas canisters not only dispersed the militants, but also led to a chaotic situation, as passers-by were thrown into confusion, resulting in injuries.

After a successful dispersal of the militants by the security operatives, our correspondent gathered that the whole stretch of the road leading to the Governor’s Office was blocked by security operatives while the militants were chased out.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Akwa Ibom State, Cordelia Nwawe, however, denied that the protesters were militants.

She added, “We do not have militants in Akwa Ibom State.’’

Nwawe, an Assistant Superintendent of Police explained that the police would continue to be up and doing in the maintenance of law and order in the state, noting that there was no room for hoodlums in the state.

It was gathered that the militants were demanding their monthly stipends from the state government and their inclusion in the Federal Government’s Amnesty programme.

Speaking also in an interview, Godwin Udofia, a lawyer, stated that the militants should have taken their protest to Abuja. He explained that the issue of the Amnesty scheme is a federal programme which should be addressed by the Federal Government.

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