A detachment of troops of the joint military force deployed to the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, on Tuesday morning used firearms to disperse hundreds of ex-militants who had blocked the East-West road, injuring one.
The ex-militants, under phases 1 to 3 of the amnesty scheme, blocked the Mbiama axis of the East-West road to motorists at about 6.30 a.m. Tuesday.
Respite however came to the trapped motorists when armed troops arrived in two patrol vans to remove the blockade and open the road to the public at around 7.30 am.
The soldiers fired several warning shots into the air which compelled the protesters to scamper to safety.
Elliot Seimiebo, an ex-militant who is on the phase 1 of the amnesty scheme, said on Tuesday that the soldiers used the firearms to disperse a peaceful protest aimed at drawing attention to the neglect of their welfare.
“We had renounced violence and remain peaceful in all our approaches, our intention was to draw attention to the nonpayment of our stipends for four months,” he said.
“We were not armed but the soldiers turned their weapons on us and there was confusion as people ran for their lives; one of the protesters was hit by stray bullet and got injured on his leg,” Mr. Seimiebo said.
When contacted, Thomas Otuji, spokesman of Operation Delta Safe, said the claims that a protester were shot was untrue.
“Our troops were sent to the scene to ensure free flow of traffic and they went there to clear the blockade on the East-West road and there is no such report at my disposal as we speak; the protesters were professionally dispersed,” Mr. Otuji said by phone.
Also Piriye Kirayamo, Liason Officer at the Amnesty Office in Yenagoa, said the office was aware of the liability to the militants but assured that efforts were underway to clear the backlog of stipends.
“We have been in discussions with the ex-agitators and have been appealing to them to remain calm, the office is doing everything to ensure that their stipends are paid,” Kiyaramo said.