President Muhammadu Buhari has caved to pressure and lifted the ban on amnesty payments to former Niger Delta militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme put in place by late President Musa Yar’Adua in 2009.
According to information from the Presidential Amnesty Office, benefiting former militants will be paid directly by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Piriye Kiyaramo, the amnesty programme’s media officer, made the announcement on Monday, August 1, 2016 in Abuja, stating that the government will also be paying tuition for the ex-militants.
“Payments of stipends to the ex-militants resumed this Monday. The payments are done directly from the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) to their bank accounts,” Kiyaramo is quoted as saying.
“The payment also includes tuition for those studying abroad. Their last payment was in February this year. Now we are clearing all outstanding and the payments.”
In February, Nigeria stopped the payments for former militants who agreed under a 2009 amnesty to stop blowing up crude pipelines in exchange for cash, Kiyaramo added.
Since the halt in the amnesty programme, Nigeria has recorded over 4,000 pipeline vandalisation activities, crippling the country’s production capacity.
Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum, says the federal government has been holding talks with Niger Delta Avengers and other militants blowing up pipelines in the region.
According to Kachikwu, they militants behind the new attacks on pipelines, are seen as costing Nigeria between 700,000 to 800,000 barrels of crude per day.
Each of the former militant is entitled, under the amnesty deal, to N65,000 naira monthly (over three times the country’s minimum wage), in addition to a job training, while those schooling get more money for their tuition.
Buhari had initially insisted on cutting the amnesty by two-thirds and limit cash payments in the face of dwindling revenues.
Additional reports from TheCable