By Innocent Anaba
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), yesterday commended the Federal Government and states of the Niger Delta on the successful conclusion of the first phase of the amnesty programme.
The association noted that with the number of militants and their leaders that have embraced the amnesty programme and the number of arms, ammunition, explosives and gun boats already surrendered to the government, it was clear that a low intensity armed struggle had been going on in the Niger Delta without any concerted effort at stemming the tide.
NBA in a statement by its General Secretary, Mr.Â Ibrahim Mark, yesterday said â€œwe commend the militants and their leaders for accepting the amnesty offer within the period designated by the government and counsel those that are yet to lay down their arms to do so in the interest of peace, justice and development.
â€œWe believe that the amnesty programme of the federal and state governments is only the first phase in a comprehensive programme of efforts at reclaiming the environment of the Niger Delta and addressing the underlying causes of the deep unrest in the region”.
To this end, the NBA suggests the following:
* That the Federal Government in collaboration with the state sovernments of the Niger Delta should carry out a comprehensive program of mopping up the remaining arms in the Niger Delta ahead of the 2011 elections. The proliferation of arms in the Niger Delta threatens the peaceful conduct of the 2011 elections.
* That the Federal Government in consultation with the state governments should involve the International Police Organisation, our own security agencies and cooperative leaders of the militant groups in identifying the sources, suppliers and distributors of the arms in the Niger Delta and sanction them in accordance with the dictates of the law.
The quantum of arms in the Niger Delta is a threat to the peace and stability of the Nigerian federation.
* The state governments of the Niger Delta should borrow a leaf from the Rivers State Government in putting together a program of education and skill acquisition for the militants especially those with little or no education. The state governments should also assist those ready to work to secure employment that will move them away from crime and criminality.
* That the Federal and State Governments should as a matter of national emergency implement the main recommendations of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta as a faithful implementation of the recommendations will guarantee peace, justice, development and equity in the Niger Delta.
* The militants and their leaders must realize that no nation can develop in an atmosphere of chaos, lawlessness, kidnapping and war.They should therefore in consultation and collaboration with the Federal and State Governments keep to the terms of the amnesty program. Any attempt by any of the parties to break or sabotage the terms of the program will only lead to a relapse and return to hostilities.