A coalition of ex-militant leaders in the Niger Delta region has accused some top officials of the Federal Ministry of Justice of frustrating the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
The coalition alleged that the programme was being sabotaged because of a suit filed by 15 companies involved in the 2019 looting of the Amnesty Training Centre located in Kaiama community of Bayelsa State.
In a protest letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, the group under the aegis of the Niger Delta Amnesty Beneficiary Forum said instead of the officials of the Federal Ministry of Justice led by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Beatrice Jeddy-Agba to support legal representation made by the Amnesty Office against the suits filed by the accused companies, they are busy sabotaging the Amnesty office’s efforts in court by removing legal officers from PAP.
The companies had filed a suit seeking N3.8billion, plus a 21 percent post-judgment fee and special damages which can go as high as N5 billion to N8 billion.
The National Coordinator of the Niger Delta Amnesty Beneficiaries Forum, Comrade James Edward Okori, in an interview with journalists in Yenagoa, after a peace march to the office of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Bayelsa State chapter, claimed that thousands of beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme are suspicious of plans to sabotage it.
“We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Security Adviser, the ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission), EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) and DSS (Department of State Services) to investigate the officials of the Federal Justice Ministry over their alleged role in removing the legal adviser and other legal officers from the Amnesty office.”
“We suspect that these officials may have been compromised by the accused companies. The removal of the legal officers attached to the Presidential Amnesty office at this moment of such suit by the accused showed alleged sabotage against the amnesty office from defending themselves against the N3.8 billion lawsuit brought against the amnesty office by 15 companies for alleged unexecuted contracts during the tenure of the former Amnesty Coordinator, Professor Charles Dokubo which allegedly led to the five days looting of the N60 billion Amnesty training complex in Boro-town, Kaiama, Bayelsa state in February 2019.
“Presently, the Amnesty office does not have a legal adviser or competent legal representative. We strongly support the 124 Amnesty beneficiaries that have filed cases against these 15 companies in two Federal High courts in Abuja.
“The public must know that five companies out of the 15 companies that are suing the amnesty office are allegedly not registered with the corporate affairs commission. They are suing for N3.8 billion, plus 21 percent post-judgment, and they are also requesting special damages which can go as high as N5 billion to N8 billion.
“The accused officials of the Ministry of Justice, individuals, and the companies allegedly involved have conspired amongst themselves in defrauding and siphoning public funds, with the recent steps they have now taken further by filing different suits at the High court of Justice in FCT, claiming full payment of contract sum with 21% post-judgment and the sum of N100,000,000 as general damages, which we have reason to believe that all arrangements have been made to ensure that these reliefs are granted.
“Also, shocking is the fact that those saddled with the responsibility of defending the federal government and any of its agencies, had now reneged from her oath of office and loyalty to the country and the good work your administration is doing, by ensuring that the 15 earlier mentioned companies get a judgment against the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“We strongly believed is conspiring with Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba Ejodamen, who has now filed suits through these 15 companies and claimed over N3,000,000,000 and is also in a desperate attempt to ensure that their reliefs are granted.
“And in a strange event, they said 15 companies’ suits which had different directors, which were filed separately on the same day were only assigned to Two judges of the FCT High court which have over 140 courts, what are the odds?
“We have had our observers in court throughout the court proceedings, therefore, it will also interest you to know that the suit which was diligently defended by one of the lawyers posted to the office of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, but in a bid to ensure that there is no clog on their way, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Justice hastily posted out the lawyer who was diligently defending the Presidential Amnesty Programme against these fraudulent suits.
“All we ask for is for justice not only to be done concerning the heinous act perpetrated by the above-named individuals and companies, but It is also our prayer that you cause urgent investigation into the matter, and urgently ask the Minister of State and his wife to step aside for comprehensive investigations into their involvement in the ongoing suits and corruption of the judicial process.”
A peace advocacy group in the Niger Delta region, the Movement for Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta (MSDND), in June provided materials as evidence of alleged fraudulent acts that led to the 2019 vandalisation and looting of the Presidential Amnesty Training Centre in Boro town, Kaima in the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.