By Emma Amaize
WARRIâ€”THE Ijaw National Congress (INC) and Presidential Committee on Amnesty yesterday called for a halt to militancy in the Niger-Delta, saying militants have eloquently made the point on marginalization and deprivation of the region and now was the time for peace.
The National President of the INC, Dr. Atuboyedia Obianime, who was represented by Mr. Eddy Akangbou and the head of publicity and liaison sub-committee of the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Militants, Dr. Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, stated this yesterday in Warri at the Annual Lecture/Town Hall meeting of Ijaw Media Forum.
President of IMF, Elder Asu Beks, in his welcome address, also said militants have accepted the amnesty programme, but called on the Federal Government to show sincerity in the scheme by commencing development of the region.
Adding that N10 billion for the execution of the disarmament programme has not been released to the committee.
The INC boss said the organization agreed with amnesty deal because what the Ijaw man wanted was freedom, adding that its quarrel was that there was no concrete amnesty programme by the federal government.
He advised the government to come out with a feasible development programme for the region and commence immediate action.
On her part, Dr. Koripamo-Agary said amnesty in itself could not address the fundamental issues, such as true federalism, infrastructural development, economic and social problems, environmental pollution and degradation, justice and equity and participation in the oil and gas businesses, which led to the Niger-Delta struggle, but was a basic step in the emancipation of the region.
Dr. Koripamo-Agary, who stated his while delivering a lecture, entitled, â€œNiger-Delta crisis: The imperative of a post-amnesty dealâ€, said accepting amnesty was not a sign of weakness/guilt but a basis of negotiation with the rest of the country.
â€œAccepting the amnesty does not mean we are criminals or have been defeated, amnesty is in a sense, a realization by the rest of the country that the solution to the Niger-Delta crisis cannot be a military one and cannot be achieved by the force of arms.
â€œIn granting â€œâ€¦ amnesty and unconditional pardon to all persons who have directly or indirectly, participated in the commission of offences associated with militant activities in the Niger-Delta. President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua acknowledged these points when he said in the Declaration â€˜â€¦Government realizes that many of the militants are able bodied youths whose energies could be harnessed for the development of the Niger-Delta and the nation at large.
â€œMy central thesis is that peace must be secured before there can be any â€˜post amnesty dealâ€™. This, however, does not stop us from theorizing, positing programmes and intellectualizing on the way forward but the immediate oxygen we need is peace.
â€œSo, we must collectively embrace the amnesty programme as a basic step in the emancipation of the regionâ€.