ByÂ Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURTâ€” A total of 69 militants yesterday formally embraced amnesty at Okrika, Rivers State, surrendering over 50 arms.
On groundÂ to receive them at Government Girls Secondary school , Okumgba Ogoloma- Okrika, were the Assistance Inspector General of Police, Zone 6, Calabar, Mr. Azubuko J. Udah, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Bala Hassan, and some members of the Presidential amnesty implementation committee.
The militants, who looked excited with the development, were later matched into one of the classrooms for documentation.
According to AIG, Mr. Azubuko, who is also a member of the amnesty committee, most of the militants had long surrendered their arms.
He explained that the amnesty was in three phases, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
Azubuko said the reformed militants had been disarmed and demobilized, adding that at the end of the amnesty, which would expire in another 46 days, the reformed militants would then be engaged in various programmes of reintegration.
He urged those yet to come up with their arms to do so.
In their separate remarks, Media Coordinator of Amnesty Implementation Committee, Dr Timiebi Koripamo-Agari, and the Rivers state Coordinator of the committee, Mr. Bestman Nnwoka, expressed satisfaction with the exercise.
They also appealed to those yet to make good use of the amnesty offer to do so, assuring them also of their security.
â€œÃ want to appeal to the militants to feel secured. I know they are worried about their personal security; they are safe.
They should all come out. We still have over forty days but time is tickling awayâ€, Dr Agary said.
Fielding questions from newsmen later, Agary said she was in touch with Ateke Tom and Asari Dokubo, urging them to embraceÂ amnesty.
â€œI am in touch with Asari Dokubo and Ateke Tom to come for the amnesty,â€ she stressed.
She dismissed allegations by one of the main stream militant groups in the region, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) that some youths were being paid and provided with arms to come forward for the amnesty.
Challenging the militant body to mention names of those behind such act, Dr. Agary said amnesty was not all about surrendering of arms.
â€œMEND should show its face. They should stop making wide allegations like government wants to bring arms to them to surrender. Letâ€™s be serious. We really need to discern. The onus is on MEND to tell us who approached them, how much they were given. They should name names. The amnesty is not all about surrendering of arms,â€ she added.
She also explained that the militants that surrendered their arms were from three different groups. Leaders of two of the groups, Solomon Ndigbare, aka Osama Bin Laden, and Worgu Justice Chiso, aka General J.J., said they were happy with their new found freedom.
On his part, Osama Bin Laden, who said he was now Brother Solomon, submitted a proposal to the Committee for sponsorship to organize an advocacy crusade round the four local government areas of Ogoni for youths to shun militancy, violence and brigandage.