Beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme have distanced themselves from a petition written against the special adviser to the president on Niger Delta Affairs and coordinator of the programme, Prof Charles Dokubo.
Some unidentified persons under the aegis of Niger Delta Ex-agitators Forum (NDEF) had through a Warri-based law firm, petitioned the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, over alleged refusal of the Amnesty Office to pay monthly stipends and diversion of funds.
In a statement by special assistant on media to the Amnesty boss, Murphy Ganagana, the Amnesty office dismissed the allegations contained in the petition, describing them as laughable.
According to the statement, following investigation into the allegation directed by the Amnesty boss, some of those listed as victims of the alleged fraud have disowned the petition, saying they have no knowledge of it.
Ganagana said, “Checks at the Amnesty Office on the list of 61 persons attached to the petition indicated that it comprised 40 beneficiaries enlisted into the Amnesty Programme under Phase One, 20 beneficiaries under Phase Two, and a person from Akwa Ibom State not enlisted in the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“Interestingly, out of the 60 persons on the list which were verified as beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme, 33 had already been trained in various areas awaiting empowerment, while the rest are on queue to undergo training soon.
‘’Contrary to allegations of misappropriation of funds by officials of the Amnesty Office and denial of the N65, 000 monthly stipends, records at the Amnesty Office indicated that all the 60 beneficiaries had not been receiving stipends since the inception of the programme in 2009’’.
He said from investigations, 60 alleged beneficiaries listed in the petition did not partake in federal government’s disarmament exercises conducted and supervised by the Military Joint Task Force (JTF) in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
The media aide however revealed that records at the Amnesty Office indicated that from the inception of the programme, payment of the N65, 000 monthly stipends to beneficiaries is strictly based on participation in the disarmament process.
Ganagana continued: “When contacted on the development, some of the 60 persons listed on the petition denied involvement in the allegations by the purported group, describing it as the handiwork of some unscrupulous individuals with sinister motive. Among those on the list who disowned the petition, are Amatelemowei, Otutufegha Mike Waibode and Simeon Emmanuel, all of whom said they had completed their training programmes and were awaiting empowerment.
“Confirming that he had not been paid stipend since the inception of the programme in 2009, Amateleowei, a beneficiary under Phase One, disclosed that he did not partake in the Disarmament exercise due to ill-health, and therefore, never bothered over the none receipt of monthly stipends till date”.
Ganagana berated the faceless individuals behind the petition, saying it was unthinkable for someone of Dokubo’s pedigree to be accused of diversion of monthly stipends for beneficiaries.
He noted: “While I can neither deny nor confirm that some unwholesome practices might have occurred in the past at the Amnesty Office, it is pertinent to note that all the issues raised in the petition had been there since 2009 when the Amnesty Programme started.
“If successive managers of the programme were not able to address some of the complaints of the 60 beneficiaries listed in the petition due to the fact that the allegations were acts of commission or omission by the beneficiaries, you cannot now turn around and blame Prof. Dokubo who assumed duties barely four months ago.
“Since Prof. Charles Dokubo assumed office in March 2018, no beneficiary of the Amnesty Programme entitled to payment of monthly stipends has been denied his/her financial entitlement, adding that there have not been issues of replacement of names of beneficiaries under Dokubo’s watch”.
On the issue of inclusion of beneficiaries in the Amnesty Programme, he noted ‘’that the Amnesty Office lacks the powers to add not even a single person to the 30, 000 beneficiaries already captured in the programme.
He said there no issue of misappropriation of funds, as Prof Dokubo has zero tolerance for corruption and has initiated remarkable reforms in the Presidential Amnesty Programme within his short period in office.
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