By George Onah
Port Harcourtâ€” The Niger Delta Non-violent Movement has said that about 54 militants are currently languishing in various prisons across the country, requesting that the incarcerated â€˜freedom fightersâ€™ be released from prison in the spirit of the Federal Governmentâ€™s amnesty.
The list containing the names of the alleged imprisoned militants was indicated in the statement, although the prisons where they have been kept was not indicated.
It was also argued that the release would afford the militants the opportunity of making their weapons available to the government because they may have their guns hidden in various creeks or locations in the region.
A statement signed by the president of the outfit, Mr. Onengiya Erokosima, said the cache of arms that could be handed over would be beneficiary to the government as each of the men may have a riffle each â€œand 54 riffles are a large quantity of armsâ€
The men were said to have been picked up by the Joint Task Force in Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta states during operations and at the peak of militancy in the region and taken for â€œsafe keepingâ€ in the jailhouses..
Erokosima drew attention to the recent release of Egberi Papa and all charges withdrawn against him by the Rivers State government, calling for a similar treatment of those whose freedom has been withdrawn to be set free.
â€œIt is pertinent to state that the implication of ignoring and isolating the detained militants is that they would not have the opportunity of embracing the amnesty by not filling the documents within the time duration of the amnesty and thus excluded.
Another implication is that some of the detained militants are the leaders of groups and therefore their subordinates cannot surrender arms they do not have as the arms were purchased and belong to their detained leaders.
Some of the boys have vowed to fight on until their leaders in detention are released. Orinaemi Hart, the leader of the Bonny axis of MEND is in detention and is about to lose his amnesty because of this insincerity and isolation.
We call on the president to demonstrate good statesmanship by directing the immediate and unconditional release of these detainees, if Niger Deltans are to take him seriously and believe in the amnestyâ€.