By LEKE ADESERI & CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
BUT for the Non-violence training he got from Amnesty Facilitator, Mr. Allen Onyema, former Chairman of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Timi Alaibe, said, weekend, that he would have been charged for coup plotting against the Federal Government when the amnesty programme started.
Recalling how, through non-violence education, they got militants to lay down their arms at the peak of the militancy in the Niger Delta, which reduced oil production to 30 per cent and almost castrated the economy of the country, Alaibe said top people in the government believed that the militants were being trained to overthrow the government. And so he was accused of plotting a coup and was summoned before the President and top security officers to defend himself.
He spoke, weekend, in Lagos at the conferment of the Pan-Nigerian Nationalist award on Allen Onyema, a lawyer and chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria, FEHN, by the Eminent Friends Group International, EFGI.
At the colourful event attended by Mr. Kingsley Kuku, current special adviser to the president on Niger Delta Affairs; Dr Bernard Lafayette (jnr); General Bob Adoba, former Chief of Army Logistics; Annkio Briggs, Ezeigbo Lagos, Eze Hycinth Ohazulike, and a host of former militants, Alaibe said he was summoned after the training of the first batch of 600 ex-militants started.
He said: “At some point I was a banker and had nothing to do with conflict management. The injustice in the Niger Delta threw me into it. The people were fighting for justice. That was how I met Onyema. In 2007, I was saddled with the responsibility of interfacing between the government and militants on the amnesty programme. Getting someone wielding an AK-47 to listen to you was not an easy job but God was on my side. So, 600 youths from various camps were in the first installment of those to be trained.
Summoned to Presidency
“Allen Onyema utilised the power of love to resolve conflict. I was accused of training the militants to overthrow the government. I was summoned by the president and before top security officers to defend myself. I took them on a 10-minute lecture on non-violence as an approach to resolve the conflict and they saw reasons with me.”
Speaking on how he got the militants to embrace non-violence, Onyema, who before the Amnesty programme had trained and transformed about 3000 Niger Delta youths through the FEHN, said initially the government and the militants did not believe that the approach would work.
The amnesty facilitator noted that leaders also needed training on non-violence.