Troops disperse protesting ex-militants

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Troops of the joint military force deployed to the Niger Delta on Tuesday dispersed hundreds of ex-militants blocking the East-West Road at Mbiama Community in Rivers State.

The blocking of the highway, which started as early as 6.30am, caused serious traffic jam on the road.

But respite came for motorists when troops of Operation Delta Safe came in two patrol vans, removed the blockades and opened the road.

The soldiers fired warning shots, making the protesters to scamper for safety.

An ex-militant, Elliot Seimiebo, stated that soldiers used fire power to disperse a peaceful protest.

According to Seimiebo, the protest is aimed at drawing the attention of the Federal Government to the neglect of the welfare of ex-militants.

Seimiebo said: “We have renounced violence and remain peaceful in all our approaches.

“Our intention was to draw attention to the non-payment of our stipends for four months.

“We were not armed but the soldiers turned their weapons against us, causing confusion as people ran for safety.

“One of the protesters was hit by stray bullet on his leg.”

When contacted, the spokesman of Operation Delta Safe, Lieutenant Commander Thomas Otuji, said it was untrue that the protesters were shot at.

Otuji said: “Our troops were sent to the scene to ensure free flow of traffic and they went there to clear the blockade on East-West Road.

“There is no such report at my disposal as we speak.’’

Also, Piriye Kirayamo, the Liaison Officer at the Amnesty Office in Yenagoa, said the office was aware that the militants were being owed.

He assured that efforts were being made to clear the backlog of entitlements being owed.

Kirayamo said: “We have been appealing to the ex-agitators to remain calm, that the office is doing everything possible to ensure that their stipends are paid.”

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