N-power applicants protest extortion by government officials

Some youths from the 13 Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, enlisted for the N-Power documentation exercise, on Monday protested alleged extortion by organisers of the programme which marred the exercise.

The N-Power is a federal government initiative to employ 200,000 unemployed graduates across the country and pay them a stipend of N30,000 monthly.

It was gathered that the unemployed youth numbering over 200, who had besieged the venue of the documentation exercise as early as 7 a.m., had earlier yielded to the directive of the organisers to go to Number 29, Gunning road, Abakaliki, and pay the sum of N500 to enable them be documented.

However, trouble started when the organisers directed them at about 2:30 p.m. to go back to their different local government areas for further directive.

The youth, angered by the directive to return back to their council areas after waiting several hours in the scorching sun, trooped to the entrance gate leading to the governor’s office and blocked the entrance.

They insisted that either the Commissioner for Economic Empowerment and Job Creation, Donatus Njoku, or any other government functionary must address them before they would vacate the entrance.

After several hours of waiting at the entrance gate of the governor’s office without any government functionary addressing them, the protesters went back to Number 29, Gunning road where most of them had paid the N500. They insisted on getting their money back.

Some of the youth who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on condition of anonymity expressed regret over the procedure and the slow pace of the exercise. They wondered why the organisers would insist that they must pay N500 before they would be attended to.

A visit to the makeshift pay-point at the heart of the Abakaliki Main Market revealed that scores of the youth had besieged the office protesting the alleged extortion and calling for the immediate arrest of the organisers.

Meanwhile, there was a mild drama at the venue of the makeshift pay point when some unidentified hefty young men numbering about five drove to the place with a Hilux Van with registration number AKL 342 SB. They immediately bundled a young man and a lady stationed at the point to collect the money and zoomed off.

The youth, who suspected connivance and attempt to whisk the suspects away to avoid arrest, immediately went after the vehicle but their chase was in vain.

When our correspondent visited the cabinet office to get the reaction of organisers of the documentation, they had disappeared while the unemployed youth were seen in clusters discussing the unfortunate exercise.

Mr. Njoku could not be reached for reaction as he was said to be in a State Executive Council meeting.

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