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Amnesty pull-out: Niger Delta Christian leaders meet

BY  SAM EYOBOKA
FOLLOWING the threat of South South governors to withdraw their support for the recent proclamation of amnesty for repentant militants by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as part of efforts to resolve the intractable crisis, eminent Christian leaders in the region will meet on Monday to find an amicable spiritual solution to the crisis in the region.

The six South South governors after a meeting in the Delta State capital, Asaba dramatically threatened to pull out of the amnesty deal because of the proposed Petroleum Industries Bill which, they say, is anti-communities and a slap on the oil producing areas; movement of the University of Petroleum from Effurun to Kaduna; no definite post-amnesty plan for the region; and the anti-South South posture of the Petroleum Minister, Alhaji Rilwanu Lukman.

Reacting to the governors’ position yesterday, a reliable source close to the Niger Delta Christian Leaders Forum, NDCLF, told our reporter,that members who had doubted the sincerity of the package had already scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday arguing that the amnesty was not capable of dousing the tension in the area since some of the militants are still skeptical about the offer.

The absence of a definite plan to gainfully engage the militants and for the development of the region had made leaders of the region to be skeptical about the sincerity of the deal, and fearing that the development could degenerate to something much worse, the religious leaders had decided to intervene.

Members of the exclusive spiritual club drawn from all denominations including the Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Methodist Church as well as other churches will team up with their more vociferous Pentecostal counterparts to attempt to salvage the region from the spirit of unrest.

The maiden meeting scheduled for the Word of Life Bible Church, Ajamimogha in Warri is expected to be attended by Christian leaders from the seven core Niger Delta states of Edo, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Ondo states.

Our source revealed that top on the agenda of the Christian ministers is the crisis in the Niger Delta which appears to have defiled all known, because the conveners believe that the amnesty is still being seen by some militants as a ruse by government to trap them.

The Forum which established a few weeks ago as a platform for addressing the spiritual content of the Niger Delta crisis is expected to make its finding known to President Yar’Adua at the end of its deliberations for consideration.

It will be recalled that many religious leaders from the Niger Delta including the national president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and his predecessor, Bishop Mike Okonkwo had consistently canvassed the inclusion of religious leaders in any effort to the resolution of the crisis in the religion.

Both men had argued that the major problem of the Niger Delta crisis bothers on lack of confidence on governmental promises after years of unfulfilled promises to the people of the region and as such there is the urgent need for the restoration of confidence.

The clerics believe that the involvement of religious leaders who are closer to the majority of the people in the area could bring about the needed confidence.


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