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Amnesty committee to hire psychiatrists for militants

*Soldiers looted, sold my television — Chief Ekpebide
By EMMA AMAIZE

Warri-THE Presidential Committee on Amnesty plans to dispatch psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors to the various rehabilitation camps it is setting up in the Niger-Delta for militants who are willing to accept amnesty  because it believes some of them are on drugs and may have  developed mental problems already.

Coordinator of the Presidential Committee on the Implementation of Amnesty, Disarmament and Re-Integration for Niger-Delta, Air-Vice Marshal Lucky Ararile confirmed the plan at a stakeholders’ meeting in Warri, Delta state, weekend.

He also said it was not true that the Presidential Committee would spend N50 billion on the rehabilitation of militants, saying some of the things to be done by the committee had been scaled down and there was no way it would spend N50 billion between now and October 4 on its activities alone.

An Ijaw leader from Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu kingdom of Delta State, Chief Dan Ekpebide , however,  stunned the committee  when he said men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) who were on Cordon and Search operation in the riverine kingdom plundered his home and sold his looted Plasma television at a give-away price in Warri.

He told the committee members the said Plasma television, which he bought for N250, 000 was sold to somebody in Warri at a cost of N25, 000 by soldiers who ransacked his home and those of others.

“I wept when I saw the television that I bought for N250,000 sold at N25,000 to  somebody by the JTF”, he claimed, saying the Federal Government amnesty would not  succeed the way the  government was going about it at the moment by occupying his community and other parts of Gbaramatu kingdom.

Spokesman for the  Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta, Colonel Rabe Abubakar had in the past debunked the claims by some persons that men of the task force looted the property of the fleeing villagers, saying it was attempt to paint the security outfit in bad light, but, Chief Ekpebide told Sunday Vanguard at the end of the session, yesterday, that the looted television set was unknowingly sold to his younger sister.

Governor Uduaghan told the co-ordinator of the Presidential committee on the Implementation of Amnesty, Disarmament and Re-Integration to note the complaint of Chief Ekpebide and ensure that such issues were addressed.

After Air Vice Marshal Aralile introduced the purpose of the committee’s visit to the state, national chairman of the Human Rights Defenders Organization of Nigeria (HURDON), Mr. Omon-Irabor who fired the first salvo said it was wrong for the Federal Government to be talking of amnesty and be sending a delegation led by an armed soldier to civilians to discuss the terms.

He queried how the government should be discussing amnesty when the traditional ruler of Gbaramatu kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Godwin Bebenimibo whose fled Oporoza community after his palace was bombed by the JTF has not been seen for nearly two months.

Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan who received accolades from the former national chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Organization of Nigeria (TROMPCON), His Royal Majesty, Charles Ayemi-Botu, the incumbent national secretary of TROMPCON, His Royal Majesty, S.P. Luke of Akugbene Mein kingdom and a member of the Delta Waterways Security Committee (DWSC), Rev Duke Akpososo for his peace process in the state appealed for calm from Deltans and also urged them to accept the official pardon.

He said the meeting was planned by President Umaru Yar’Adua before the May 13 incident in Delta state between militants and soldiers, which led to the military action by the JTF and that it was for the good of armed youths in the region. Uduaghan, nevertheless, pointed out that accepting the amnesty was only the beginning of the struggle for genuine freedom fighters, as well as the government, as the issues that led to the take-up of arms in the first instance by the youths against the government, which is underdevelopment, have to be frontally addressed.

Warri-based constitutional lawyer, Mr. Akpo Mudiaga-Odje raised the issue of the legality of the amnesty proclaimed by Mr. President, as there was no law backing it up, but, the governor explained that the matter was debated before the amnesty was signed into law, assuring that the President’s imprimatur on the amnesty was binding enough.

He assured that no armed youth in the state who surrendered his arms to the government would be prosecuted while Air-Vice Marshal Aralile stressed the documentation process was important for militants that were willing to accept amnesty, as that would form the basis of the renunciation of militancy.

Another Ijaw leader, Chief Oboko Bello told the committee that the people have to be alive to accept amnesty and urged it to create conducive environment for people to be alive and return to their homes first before accepting amnesty.


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