June 22, 2009

FG plans N50bn amnesty package

N402m needed as take-off grant, Militants to get 60-75 days to renounce militancy

By Jide Ajani
LAGOS — A TOTAL  N50 billion (fifty billion naira) has been proposed by the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Militants in the Niger Delta to make peace in the Niger delta region, Vanguard can reveal authoritatively.

Of this amount, the sum of N402 million (Four Hundred and Two million Naira) is immediately required as take-off grant, should the proposals of the Presidential Panel be adopted by the National Council of State which meets on Thursday, June 25. The panel submitted its report on Thursday, June 4, 2009.

Thursday, June 4, 2009.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe (left); Captain of MV Yenagoa, Mr. Graham Egbegi (middle); Chief Engineer, Mr. Davis Akpoguma (right) and others at a reception organised for the 10 Nigerian Seamen kidnapped in August 2008 by Somali pirates as they arrived at the Ministers' Quarters, Mabushi, Abuja after their release, last weekend. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe (left); Captain of MV Yenagoa, Mr. Graham Egbegi (middle); Chief Engineer, Mr. Davis Akpoguma (right) and others at a reception organised for the 10 Nigerian Seamen kidnapped in August 2008 by Somali pirates as they arrived at the Ministers' Quarters, Mabushi, Abuja after their release, last weekend. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.

The panel’s 63-page report (with 38 pages of main report and 25 pages of annexure), made it clear that:

“No counter-insurgency effort which culminated in Amnesty anywhere in the world has been a cheap venture.

The Panel is also conscious of the overall desire of the government to channel all financial resources towards the accelerated development of the Niger Delta region. However, some money must be spent in the course of restoration of law and order to give room for construction machines to move in.

“The projected sum of N50,000,000,000 (Fifty billion naira) as envisaged would go a long way in the peace making effort. Future financial challenges will be addressed as they arise.

“The C-in-C is invited to note this modest estimate in the course of deliberations with the governors and other stakeholders.

“In the interim and in order to carry out pre-proclamation activities, the sum of N402,000,000 (four hundred and two million naira) is requested for release to the implementation bodies as a take-off grant”.

The panel also proposed that “for effectiveness, the amnesty proposed by the Federal Government should take the form of a Presidential broadcast whereby details of the reprieve would be proclaimed to the public, including the militants and the international community.”

The Panel further said “due to the complex nature of the Niger Delta militancy, it is recommended that the broadcast/proclamation should give to the militants a period not exceeding seventy-five (75) days but not less than sixty (60) days within which to renounce militancy and subscribe to the oath of renunciation. The renunciation and subscription to the oath should be done publicly at designated centres.”

Terms of reference

The Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Militants in the Niger Delta had a three-pronged term of reference. In the panel’s report, letters from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), with ref numbers SGF.

19/S.105/9 of 4 May, 2009 and SGF.19/S.105/15 of 5 May conveyed the approval of Mr. President in constituting the Panel, which was tasked to address the following as its Terms of reference:

*To prepare a step-by-step framework for amnesty and complete Disarmament, Demobilisation and Re-integration in Niger Delta with appropriate time-lines.

*To ensure that those with criminal records do not take advantage of the amnesty;
*To work out the cost to Government of disarmament, demobilisation and re-integration of the militants”.

The Panel’s report concludes with a ten-point recommendation thus:
“The grant of Amnesty to Niger Delta militants is perhaps the boldest decision the Federal Government has taken towards resolving the intractable problems of the region.

This golden opportunity must be seized and maximized. Government must act fast to enhance the minimum of confidence already being engendered by the initiative.”

Summary of Major Recommendations

The summary of the major recommendations are as follows:
“That the declaration of the Amnesty should be by a Presidential Proclamation;
“That all militants who respond positively to the Amnesty should by that act receive presidential pardon and thus become immune from criminal prosecution on account of any acts they might have committed as militants;

“That all those who thus become free and blameless citizens should be fully integrated and rehabilitated at Government expense;

“That the entire programme should be driven by massive multi-media publicity blitz before, during and after the proclamation of Amnesty;

“All tiers of government, security agencies civil society groups and other stakeholders should fully participate in achieving the goal of general amnesty and integration for the ex-militants and the establishment of a lasting peace in the Niger Delta region;

“Amnesty should be pursued pari-passu with effective anti-bunkering measures because of the close correlation between illegal oil bunkering and armed conflict in the Niger delta region;

“The local population, the nation at large and the international community should be carried along through appropriate perception management strategies both to win their support and to counter any negative propaganda that may be mounted by renegades;

“The economic aspects of re-integrating the ex-militants in terms of job creation, professional development and micro-credit facilities, would require appropriate collaboration with NDE, NAPEP, NDDC, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, PTDF as well as the oil majors;

“Qualified ex-militants could be considered for employment by Private security firms (in) the Niger Delta region to perform surveillance duties on oil pipelines and installations; and

“A take-off grant of N402 million would be required for the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Re-integration (DDR) programme”

Panel members and sub-committees

The Presidential Panel, which initially had 18 original members, with Minister of Interior, Major-General Godwin O. Abbe (rtd) CFR, as Chairman, co-opted seven other members into the panel, because the “panel was allowed to invite any person or group of persons that could assist in the execution of its mandate.”

Therefore, the report discloses, “the panel invited representatives of the Governors of Edo and Cross River states and co-opted a retired military officer with requisite experience and expertise in Disarmament, Demobilisation and Re-integration matters in the capacity of Staff Adviser.

The membership of the panel is as follows:

Maj-Gen  G.  O.  Abbe (rtd) Chairman; Elder G. Orubebe, member; Air Chief Marshal P.  Dike, Chief of defence Staff, member; Mr. Mike Okiro, Inspector-general of Police, member; Mr. Azubuko Udah, AIG, member; Mrs. G. E. Odegbaro, member; Alhaji Mustapha Sani, member; Alhaji Y.M. Bichi, member; Dr. Bukhari Bello, member; Dr. T. Koripamo-Agary, member; Barr. M. J. Eyo (Akwa Ibom) member; Barr. O.J. Oworibo (Bayelsa) member; Mr. Bassey Okim (Cross River) member; Hon. Dafe Akpedeye (SAN) (Delta) member; Mr. E.O. Odiai (Edo), member; Mr. W.R. Olamide (Ondo) member; Barr. Bestman Nnwoka (Rivers) member; Alhaji B.U. Maitambari, member/Secretary.

The seven co-opted members include Col. O. Majoyeogbe (rtd), member/staff adviser to the panel; Cdre T.O. Awoyemi; Brig-Gen F.U. Atele; Col. S. Abdulkadir; Capt (NN) A. Akirinade; Mr. Godwin Igbinosa and Mr. P. K. Emefiele.

Sub-committees and costs

An authoritative source in the Presidency disclosed to Vanguard that the committee divided itself into four sub-committees with respective terms of reference.

The sub-committees are Amnesty, headed by Mr. Mike Okiro, IGP; Disarmament and Demobilisation, headed by Air Chief Marshal P. Dike; Publicity and Liaison, headed by Dr. T. Koripamo-Agary; and Rehabilitation and Reintegration, headed by Chief G. Orubebe.

The work of the Amnesty sub-committee, headed by Okiro, according to the report is to cost “N966,000,000:00, after the deduction of the proposed take-off grant.”

The financial requirement for the Disarmament and Demobilisation is estimated to cost N19,109,746,700: 00  (Nineteen Billion, One Hundred and Nine Million, Seven Hundred and Forty-Six Thousand, Seven Hundred Naira) and is further broken into 16 sub-components as follows:

*Requirement for Establishing Coordinating Centres — N48,520,000:00
*Vehicle and Generator Requirement for Coordinating Centres — N6,987,787,500:00
*Security for Coordinating Centre — N1,500,000:00

*Sanitation, Medical and Recreational Facilities — N517,343,100:00
*Operational Allowance for

*Troops at Collection Point — N242,550,000:00
*Operational Allowance for Troops at Screening Point — N242,550,000:00
*Operational Allowance for Trrops at Holding Camp — N242,550,000:00
*Feeding Arrangements, Reception Centre — N93,712,500:00
* Feeding Arrangement Screening Centre/Feeding Arrangement Holding Centre — N281,137,500:00

*Medical Care and Feeding for Each ex-militant for 75 Days — N189,500: 00  multiplied by number of militants.

*Subsistence Allowance for Each Ex-militant for 75 Days — N37,500:00  multiplied by number of militants.
*Other Requirements for the Holding Camps, Collection and Screening Points — N197,020,000:00

*Running of the Secretariat — N822,000:00
*Provision of Accommodation for Troops — N290,276,000:00
*Communication Equipment — N737,107,500:00
T O T A L: N 19,109,746,700: 00

According to the report, “the projected cost of the Publicity and Liaison sub-committee is N1,040,200,000:00 (One billion, forty million, two hundred thousand naira) having taken into consideration the intended release of the sum of N75,000,000:00 (seventy five million naira) as take-off grant”. For the Re-integration sub-committee, the report states:

“In view of the massive activities of the sub-committee, it is projected that the sum of N3,833,500.00 (three million, eight hundred and thirty-three thousand, five hundred naira) will be required having been given a take-off grant of N109, 000,000:00 (one hundred and nine million naira)”.

It is expected that the National Council of State would deliberate on the proposals in the report of the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmanent of Militants in the Niger Delta on Thursday.