Posted by News Express | 17 August 2016 | 1,767 times
The Coalition of Houseboat Owners has said that some of their workers who are former Niger Delta militants are threatening to return to the creeks as an alternative means of livelihood.
They have subsequently called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the unwillingness of the Defence Headquarters to pay the balance of over N2 billion owed them (Houseboat Owners).
The debt was incurred by the Defence Headquarters as a result of houseboats it hired from them for the Joint Task Force surveillance of the creeks of the Niger Delta region.
Speaking with newsmen, Engr. Eberiere Peter Otomewo, spokesman of the coalition, decried the reluctance of the Defence Headquarters to clear the outstanding debt which they said has brought untold hardship on them as they were finding it difficult to meet their family obligations.
Otomewo disclosed that some of their children and dependents have dropped out of school, while some others died due to lack of funds to take care of their needs.
Saying that the development is unhealthy and unfortunate, he wondered why the government was unwilling to pay them for the services they rendered, reiterating that they have been in court with the three contractors who got the houseboats from them.
Speaking further, he lamented that the boats, which they leased since 2012, were fast dilapidating due to lack of maintenance.
“Even the refusal of the Defence Headquarters to release the boats is another issue; one of the houseboats is lying underwater for lack of care and more may follow suit if same behaviour remained. Even so, JTF claimed the houseboats were strategic to their operations.
“They are still using the houseboats yet. They won’t maintain them, and they won’t release them to us. This action of theirs is a complete show of impunity; hence we are appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the matter,” Otemewo stated.
•Excerpted from an Independent report. Photo shows ex-militants during their days in the creeks.
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