ByÂ EMMA AMAIZE
NIGER-DELTA elders,Â today,Â at a meeting in Warri, Delta State, gave four conditions that should be met by the Federal Government for its peace process on the Niger-Delta, including amnesty for militants to work.
They, however, volunteered to set up a contact group to liaise with all the militant groups with a view to building trust and ensuring the success of the peace process.
The first is that all detained militants, especially Henry Okah of the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND) have to be released by the Federal Government to show honesty and sincerity.
The second is rehabilitation of all the victims of the recent conflict in the region; third is the immediate implementation of the Niger-Delta Technical Committee report, headed by Mr. Ledum Mitee, which was submitted to the Federal Government, about six months ago and the fourth is the withdrawal of the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta from the region.
The meeting hosted by a prominent South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark, was attended by delegates from the Niger-Delta region, including the first civilian governor of Edo state and national chairman of the South-South Peoples Assembly (SSPA), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, chairman of the Niger-Delta Technical Committee (NDTC), Mr. Ledum Mitee, former provost marshal of the Nigeria Army and chairman of the SSPA, Edo State, Brigadier General Idada Ikponmwen (retd.), chairman of the SSPA, Delta State, Dr. Brown Adasen, Prince Okareme Maikpobi and former commissioner in Delta state, Dr. Richard Tonsanwunmi. Also at the meeting were Hon Emma Akpasong, Chief I.O Jerry from Bayelsa state, F.J. Williams from Ondo state, Ambassador Orike from Rivers state amongst others.
The communiquÃ© issued at the end of the meeting read: “After exhaustive discussion we arrived at the following conclusions: â€œ*We accept the amnesty but the amnesty must be negotiated by the Niger-Delta elders after due consultation with the Governors of the zone and the freedom fighters.
*The Niger-Delta leaders should organize and work for the unity of the region by setting up structures that would deal with the unity of the region and touching base with the fighting boys. *The Mitee Committee report should be implemented *Victims of the conflict should be provided for and as quickly as possible to enable them to return to their communities. Compensation should be paid and losses remedied *Release of all detainees like Okah;
*We accept and acknowledge in principle the grant of amnesty by the Federal Government as an important step in the quest for peace in the Niger-Delta. We, however, believe that for the amnesty to have the desired impact and be successful, it has to be taken within the broad context of the underlying problems of the region.
*Accordingly, the Niger-Delta elders have resolved to work towards the success of the peace process through setting up of a contact group with all militant groups with a view to building trust as well as with the government.â€