By Emma Amaize
WARRIâ€”MANAGING Director/Chief Executive Officer, Anotech Global Company Nigeria Limited, Warri, Delta State, Engr. Tony Okoh, has said the fruits of the Federal Governmentâ€™s amnesty to militants have started manifesting with free movement on the waterways in the Niger Delta.
Engr. Okoh, who made the statement while speaking at the weekend with newsmen in Warri, said the rest of the country would begin to reap from the fruits of the programme in no distant future.
He, however, appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that promises of massive development it made to the people of the region, particularly the ex-militants, were fulfilled.
He also warned that the country might be thrown into a worse situation than it had witnessed, if government failed to deliver on the agreement it reached before the full amnesty programme was embraced by the people of the Niger Delta.
According to him, â€œthe idea of the amnesty is a beautiful one because it has helped in no small measure to improve on the peace in the Niger Delta.
â€œNow that amnesty is in place, everybody is moving freely, doing their legitimate businesses because those involved know that if any thing happens, they will be held responsible. Therefore, they are working with government to maintain the peace.
â€œBut we will continue to pray that government keeps its side of the bargain by developing the region. We need massive infrastructure, bridges, employment and empowerment of the people of the region.
â€œIf these are done, the people will continue to build faith on government. But if not done, we should expect a worse situation than we had experienced in the pastâ€.
Engr. Okoh also called on the Federal Government to withdraw with immediate effect, the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), code named Operation Restore Hope, from the region as peace has returned to the one- time volatile zone.
He noted that numerous checkpoints along the waterways paint a picture of a war -torn zone, adding that the only thing that would make the people believe that they were not being singled out for punishment was the immediate recall of the JTF.
Okoh advocated that rather than the continued deployment of the military for security on the waterways, marine police, which is the legal entity saddled with the responsibility, should be deployed for the purpose.
He said:Â â€œPeople are moving freely but there is this element of fear created by the continued presence of the JTF. You still have to meet catchments of soldiers on the waterways.
â€œAt various checkpoints, people are meant to raise their hands up, remove their caps and are subjected to serious search.
â€œThis is limited freedom. I pray government to ensure that people move freely as they go about their normal duty. The military should be replaced with the marine police to patrol the water waysâ€.