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YENAGOA, Nigeria Jan 5 Nigeria has resumed
payments of cash stipends to former militants agreed under a
2009 amnesty in the country's Niger Delta oil hub, a government
official said on Thursday.
The government has been holding talks with militants to end
attacks on crude pipelines which reduced Nigeria's output by
700,000 barrels a day for several months last year.
Authorities had originally cut the budget for cash payments
to militants to end corruption but later resumed payments to
stop pipeline attacks crippling vital oil revenues.
"Two months of the ex-militants' stipends were paid
yesterday ... The rest of their stipends will be paid later in
batches by (central bank) CBN," said Piriye Kiyaramo, an officer
in the government's Amnesty Office.
He said the paid stipends covered August and September.
Each former militant is entitled under the amnesty to 65,000
naira ($206.68) monthly plus job training.
Eric Omare, spokesman for the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC),
which represents the Delta's biggest ethnic group, said former
militants had complained to the region's top negotiator handling
talks with the government about payment delays.
President Muhammadu Buhari met Niger Delta leaders and
representatives for the militants in November to discuss their
demands but little progress has emerged publicly since then.
The militants and residents who sympathise with them say
they want a greater share of Nigeria's oil wealth to go to the
Crude sales make up about 70 percent of government revenue
and the attacks have deepened an economic crisis brought on by
low global oil prices.
Nigeria currently produces "close to" 1.8 million barrels a
day of crude, its oil minister said last month, the latest
official figure. Output had been 2.2 million bpd at the start of
2016 when a wave of pipeline attacks began.
($1 = 314.5000 naira)
(Reporting by Tife Owolabi; writing by Ulf Laessing; editing by
Jason Neely and Adrian Croft)