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Why ex-Niger Delta militants invaded Nigerian embassy in Russia- Ambassador

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The students claimed to be owed over a million naira each.

The Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Ekanem Assam, has threatened to recommend the repatriation of some Nigerian students, who invaded the country’s embassy in Moscow on September 30.

Ex-militant Niger deltaMr. Assam made the threat in a telephone interview in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said the embassy was invaded by 21 ex-Niger Delta militants, who are currently studying in Russia, under the Federal Government’s amnesty programme.

He accused the students of destroying furniture, cars, computers, televisions, communications system and a 17th century artefact donated to the embassy by the Federal Ministry of Culture.

The ambassador, who said he was in Nigeria when the incident happened, disclosed that the deputy defence attaché was beaten up by the protesting students.

He said the ex-militants were protesting unpaid allowances by the Federal Government, including warm clothing and transport allowances.

Their other demands included an increase in their housing allowance from $200 (N32, 400) to $1,600 (N259, 000) a month and immediate payment of their monthly stipend, he said.

“Each person is claiming about $7,800 (N1.26 million) and they wanted it paid before they leave the embassy.’’

According to the ambassador, when the embassy staff intimated him about the protests, he contacted the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs. Kingsley Kuku.
“He told me that the students were only being owed salaries for the month of September.”

He quoted Mr. Kuku as saying that the salaries had been sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria since September 23 for remittance to the students’ individual accounts in Moscow.

The ambassador said all efforts to persuade the students to be patient failed as they vented their anger on the staff and property at the embassy. He said that the embassy invited the Russian police who detained some of the suspects and subsequently released them.

“Whether they are still welcome to Russia is not a matter for me to decide that is a matter for the Russian government. But for the Nigerian government, I told these boys that if they resort to violence at anytime during the tenancy of their training, I will recommend that they be repatriated back to Nigeria because it is a total disgrace to Nigeria and the Nigerian community.

“I have communicated to the Federal Government and the desk officer in charge of their programme is coming here on Monday.”

Mr. Assam acknowledged that Nigerian students in Moscow, under various scholarship programmes, usually had difficulty in accessing their grants.

He, however, said that it was not a justification to invade the premises of a foreign embassy.

“Bayelsa students have problems and even those Federal Government scholarship students have problems with their monies coming. But on this particular one, we do not have any business with them, their monies is paid directly to their individual account from the CBN. Mr. Kingsley Kuku told me that the money has been deposited to the CBN account since the 23rd of September for remittance to these chaps.

“If everybody who was owed salary reacted this way, will there be a world?” the envoy asked.

 

NAN

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