ByÂ Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in Bayelsa State yesterday hailed the resolve of militant leaders who last weekend openly surrendered their arms.
Secretary of the CLO in Bayelsa State, Comrade Alagoa Morris, in an interview in Yenagoa, said since the arms-carrying youths have heeded the call to drop their arms and embrace peace, the Federal Government should withdraw the Joint Task Force from the creeks with the return of peace.
Comrade Morris noted with sadness that money being expended on the accommodation of the soldiers in hotels and other allowances should be directed to peace and development process in the rural communities and not just the state capital.
â€œOur position on JTF withdrawal is expedient because up till now, our people are being asked to raise their hands before passing military checkpoints in our creeks. Some innocent speedboat drivers and commuters have been killed in the past by trigger happy JTF personnel at such checkpoints.
â€œSince respect, they say, is reciprocal, the authorities should respect the rights of the people to freely move in the creeks, especially now that the youths have heeded the call for peace and development,â€ he said.
The CLO scribe also urged the youths to beam their searchlight on political leaders in the region and ensure that only the right persons were voted into office and not allow themselves to be used during elections.
â€œPoliticians should desist from approaching the youths who have just dropped their arms to act as thugs during elections. The peopleâ€™s will should be allowed to prevail in all elections because, for now, most people are still of the view that the current democratic experiment is still far from what is expected of it, as per the electoral processes,â€ he warned.
He also called on the youths in the creeks, who are yet to key into the peace process, to emulate the gesture of those that publicly surrendered their arms last Saturday, as there was no alternative to peace.
In order to avoid a repeat of the ugly incident of the last four years where the creeks of the state were turned into a theatre of war, Morris said the government should match words with action by ensuring that fund meant for the development of the state was spread evenly and judiciously used.
â€œDevelopment should be for only those who prove themselves as strong or violent.Â Peaceful communities should be compensated with development.
â€œThe state and local governments should be just in the distribution of resources to avoid the type of thing the federal government was accused of. Public officers should render account to their constituencies and the entire state, while people should also fashion out ways of holding public office holders accountable,â€ he said.