The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) and ex-militant leaders have berated the Senate Public Account Committee following its threats to issue a bench warrant on officials of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) including the PAP’s Interim Administrator, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd).
The Chairman of IYC, Abuja branch, Adam Marbo, said the council was surprised at the committee’s claim that the warrant was to compel Dikio appear before it to explain an alleged N10bn unaccounted for by the amnesty office contained in Auditor-General’s report of 2018.
Marbo said the council was further amazed that the report referred to by the committee was based on transactions that occurred in 2015 fiscal year.
The IYC boss described the posture of the Senate committee as witch-hunt explaining that the transaction and the audit report happened years before Dikio was appointed as the interim administrator of the programme.
He said: “We can recall that Dikio was appointed towards the end of 2020. What the Senate is investigating is a transaction that occurred in the amnesty office in 2015 but was mentioned in the Auditor-General’s report of 2018.
“The matter does not concern Dikio at all. Why will the Senate Committee become so fixated on Dikio that it descended to the arena of desperation with the threat of a bench warrant? What are they looking for? The committee cannot feign ignorance of persons at the helm of affairs in amnesty office when the transaction took place”.
Marbo urged the committee to stop distracting Dikio and allow him concentrate and deliver his vision for PAP insisting that the current amnesty boss should only be held accountable for his actions and inactions during his tenure.
He said: “The entire stakeholders in the Niger Delta are passionate about Dikio because of the difference he has made since he assumed office as the interim administrator of PAP. We like his style because it has deepened discussions and restored peace in the Niger Delta.
“Dikio has reformed the amnesty programme and we won’t allow any baseless attack on him. The Senate committee should judge Dikio by his deeds in the amnesty office and not by the actions and misdeeds of others before him. We perceive any attempt to do otherwise as a deliberate attempt to distract the amnesty boss and destabilise the Niger Delta”.
Ex-militant leaders in a separate statement signed by Chairman, First Phase Ex-Agitators, HRH Henry Binidodogha aka Egbema One and Chief Andabafa Namah aka Opunamah
called on President Muhammadu Buhari to hold the Senate responsible should there be renewed hostilities in the Niger Delta.
They said the lawmakers were on a mission to disrupt the existing peace in the region with their scripted plans to destabilise the good works of Dikio
The former warlords said the committee was on a mission to embarrass Dikio and make a mess of all that he had achieved within a short period of time since he took over.
They also said the issue listed in the probe predated the tenure of Dikio and wondered why the Senate Public Accounts Committee would be disturbing him about it.
They said: “Our attention has been drawn to a report in the media by the Senate, inviting our boss, Colonel Milland Dixon Dikio (retd) to appear before them else they would arrest him. We want to say that this move is capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in the Niger Delta region.
“Before we go further, let me reiterate here that we have never seen anyone manage this amnesty programme since its inception as Col. Dikio has done. And so we see the invitation of the Senate as a witch-hunt because the matter happened in 2018 and as then Dikio was not incharge of the programme.
“Even with the malfeasance he met, he has not blamed anybody or accuse anyone but has been working seriously, transforming the programme and affecting positively lives of the people, particularly the PAP beneficiaries. His achievements are visible for all to see.
“For the records, this is the first time ex-agitators are going for training with the assurance of being engaged immediately after the training under the Train, Employ and Mentor (TEM) scheme. It has never happened before. This is also the first time we have experienced a non-violent approach to issues. No more protests and counter protests as it used to be. This is also the first time that the monthly stipends are paid as at when due.
“We do not want to believe that the Senate Committee is trying to subdue our leader and brother who have come to change the narrative and perception of the PAP. Let us put them on notice that we will resist it with all our strength and might. As delegates and critical stakeholders in the region we will not allow them to rubbish him and the amnesty programme”.
The ex-militant leaders said while the Senate committee headed by Senator Matthew Urhogbide had the statutory right of carrying out their oversight functions, they must be careful and be sincere especially when it had to do with the Niger Delta.
They insisted it made no sense whatsoever to compel a man to answer for an alleged offence that he knew nothing about and urged the Senate committee to stop the sponsored media trial and invite those responsible to answer for themselves what transpired in 2018.
They said: “We are suprised that an institution like the Senate will allow themselves to be used by desperate people who are trying to fight back because of their hatred for Dikio. Let me say this, we will take this matter to any length. We will not allow evildoers to hold us to ransom. Never again.
“Those who have been fired from the PAP deserved it because they were not adding value to the system. They have for too long stifled the smooth operations of the programme because of their greed. What we are seeing is a revival of PAP to meet its expectations.
“We know the pressure Dikio is going through because he refused to offer contracts to people who are not capable of handling such contracts. We don’t want to believe that the Senators are guilty of this.
“Dikio has said contracts can only be awarded to people who meet the expected standards and we stand by that. Only recently he terminated a contract because the company breached the terms and we supported him”.