Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Several aggrieved ex-militants who are beneficiaries of the federal government’s monthly amnesty stipends yesterday attacked a Skye Bank branch in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, disrupting normal banking business for a long time.
They forced their way into the banking hall, scared the bank’s customers away and threatened to beat up staff of the bank located in Amarata area of the state capital, insisting on the full payment of their monthly N65,000 allowances.
Many of the visibly angry ex-warlords were protesting a cut in their payments, allegedly ordered by their superiors who had given a standing order to the bank to make deductions as appropriate.
Out of the N65,000, it was gathered that only N25,000 was paid into each of the accounts for the month, a development that riled up the protesting ex-agitators.
Scores among the angry youths flung and tossed away several of the equipment in the banking hall and forced bank customers to run for their lives, until the management of the bank called for reinforcement of security.
They reportedly threatened those they met on duty to pay them their complete stipends or go the way of Mr. Adewale Adesanya, an official of the bank who was attacked and killed by gunmen eight months ago, on his way to Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The late Wale, as he was fondly called, who was in charge of the accounts of the ex-militants before his death, also had to deal with several issues of deductions from the ex-militants’ accounts.
An angry ex-militant with scars all over his body, was said to have stripped himself threatening to defecate in the banking hall if the issue was not resolved instantly.
“They threatened us and their sight was really scary. Some had deep scars, healed bullets wounds. One of them was one-handed, an eyewitness said.
One of the officials who preferred not to be named for security reasons, noted that the ex-militants had an agreement with their ‘generals’ that N20,000 each should be deducted from their N65,000 every month leaving them with a balance of N45,000.
She said: “But what happened is that last month, the stipend was not paid on time and the ex-militants took all their N65,000, without recourse to the agreement.
“So, when this new stipend was paid, the ‘generals’ insisted that two months deductions must be made on their accounts. It is a standing order which was carried out but the ex-militants don’t want to understand that,” she said.
“This is not the fault of the bank. They agreed to the deductions and even signed undertakings. But now they make it look as if the bank and its officials are the ones eating their money. They should go and meet their commanders.”
The ex-militants have recently either embarked on blocking of popular highways in protest against non-payment of their stipends or carry out demonstrations in front of “erring” banks to drive home their grievances.