February 08, (THEWILL) – The immediate past spokesman of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, has faulted the claims of alleged financial wrongdoing levelled against the Presidential Amnesty Programme by an online tabloid over payment done to beneficiaries of the programme through their leaders in 2023.
On Wednesday, Premium Times claimed in a report that the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta was among Government MDAs that have violated the financial transparency laws by authorising the payment of huge sums of public funds into private accounts.
The report partly stated, “The Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta tops the list of MDAs making such controversial payments with a total payment of N8.3 billion in 130 transactions to Ebikabowei Victor-Ben, an ex-Niger Delta militant.
“Findings showed that the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta paid N4.72 billion into individual accounts of some camp leaders in the Niger Delta where the struggle for oil wealth and agitation against environmental hazards have propelled ethnic militias to pick arms against the state.
“For instance, in a total of 10 transactions, Mr Victor-Ben, the ex-militant, also known as Boyloaf, received N564.7 million from the office between July and November 2023. According to the transactions’ descriptions, the money was meant for delegates of the Boyloaf camp.”
But reacting to the reports via a statement issued in Abuja, on Wednesday, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, said the claims of the online newspaper lack due diligence.
He further said the report does not recognise the fact that PAP which is under the remit of the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta is a classified security program that serves as an instrument for peacebuilding and stability in the Niger Delta region.
According to him, despite attempts to compare the payments made by the Amnesty Office to beneficiaries and their leaders, the claims of alleged financial wrongdoing are frivolous and a clear attempt to cause disaffection among its delegates and stakeholders.
Ekerefe, who is also the leader of the Niger Delta Advocacy group, New Era Movement, expressed concern that the report could also trigger unrest in the peaceful Niger Delta region.
The youth leader insisted that since he assumed office as Interim Administrator of the PAP, retired Major General Barry Ndiomu, the financial dealings and transactions of the program have been in cahoots with the financial transparency laws of the Federal Government.
“It is an effort in futility to compare payments to beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme through their leaders and the controversial incident of the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Betta Edu.
“This to me is shameful, mischievous and looks like a paid job that was poorly executed.
The administration of Ndiomu at the Presidential Amnesty office has raised the bar in the areas of probity, accountability and proper management of resources which has led to several achievements, including the zero cases of protests and controversy over the delay of monthly payments of stipends”, he noted.
The former IYC spokesman commended Ndiomu, for using the instruments of his office to contribute immensely to the sustainable peace in the Niger Delta region when compared to the rest regions of the country where violent crimes and insecurity have taken an upsurge.
He said PAP has recently recorded success in the training of 35 beneficiaries, who have completed their cadet pilots training program in the world-class aviation training organisations (ATOs), in Johannesburg, South Africa.
His words, “Thirty-five beneficiaries out of the 75 shortlisted under the Presidential Amnesty Programme’s Aviation Resuscitation Scheme have graduated from specialised training courses that will see their Private/Commercial Pilot licenses type-rated in a variety of aircraft equipment, ranging from B737 Classic, ERJ-145 and ATR-72.
“It takes a leader with great vision to doggedly pursue the quality implementation of the PAP Aviation Resuscitation Program.
“This will develop the human capacities of our youths in the strategic aviation industry that commands global relevance with far-reaching opportunities.”
About the Author
My name is Aherhoke Odeh Amos Okioma. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Archeology with a second class Lower Division from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1989. I also posses a Diploma in Journalism ( in view ) from the International Institute of Journalism, Yenagoa Campus.
I have been practicing journalism for over fifteen years now. I hail from Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta state. Am married with children.