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Lack of plans for militants, threat to amnesty, says IYC

By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT—IJAW Youth Council (IYC), has said the absence of what it termed a concrete post-amnesty plan for reformed militants that have keyed into the presidential amnesty programme was already constituting a threat to the exercise in the region.

Some reformed militants in Bayelsa State had recently stormed the streets protesting alleged neglect and abandonment by the government after surrendering their weapons.

President of the IYC, Dr. Chris Ekiyor, who spoke against this backdrop, said the failure of the Federal Government to stick to an earlier blue print submitted by his body on how to go about reformation and reorientation of militants in the region was largely responsible for the seeming threat to the amnesty exercise.

According to him, all the Federal Government was doing in the name of amnesty was just retrieval of arms from militants in the region without a clear programme of reformation and reintegration of the repentant militants.

He said if there was such a programme, there would not have been any reason for some of the reformed militants to hit the streets of Bayelsa protesting like Nigerian soldiers that recently came from Liberia for their allowances.

Noting that it was still not late for the government to adopt the proposal of the youth body on how to end militancy in the region, Ekiyor explained that all they asked for in their submission on the issue was for the government to follow a programme they code named DRRD, meaning disengagement, rehabilitation , reintegration  and disarmament.

He said they chose disarmament as the last option because they felt surrendering of arms was something that should come from conviction and not compulsion.

Ekiyor added that the Norwegian Shippers association was also recommended to retrain the reformed militants after which none of them would naturally see the need to go back to carry arms.

He said collection of arms was not all about amnesty because these arms were not only in unauthorized hands in the Niger Delta.

“Arms in illegal hands is a problem round the country. You find it in the North too, like the recent case of Boko Haram revealed. It is also in the East, West just name it,” he said.

Blaming politicians for hijacking the amnesty project the IYC initiated to calm tension in the region, Ekiyor said, like in every faked product, it can never be like the authentic one.

He said since mopping of arms was on going in the region in the name of amnesty, the federal government should reciprocate the cooperation of those keying into the project by commencing development projects in the region.

For instance, he said, communities that were destroyed in any form by the Joint Task Force could be rehabilitated as the mopping up continued.


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