Others surrender arms Friday
By Jide Ajani & Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT â€” TOP militant leaders, yesterday, opted to accept the Federal Governmentâ€™s offer of amnesty, but by proxy, for fear of arrest.
However, some militants have promised to surrender their arms on Friday. This would be coming a day after the Federal Government would have formally released details of the amnesty package.
Spokesman of the militants, Mr. Ikenna Enekweizu, a lawyer, who gave this indication after a meeting with the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, the Minister of Interior Affairs, Maj-Gen Godwin Abbe (rtd), the Commissioner of Police in Rivers state, Mr Bala Hassan and other top security officers in Port Harcourt yesterday said his clients were willing to be part of the healing process being driven by the Federal Government.
Some of the militants represented by the legal practitioner at the meeting include Ateke Tom, Osama Bin Laden, Farah Dagogo, â€˜Generalâ€™ Boyloaf, Soboma George and others.
Fielding questions later from newsmen, the Inspector-General said it was not true that the federal government came up with the issue of amnesty because of the threat the activities of the militants were posing to the nationâ€™s economy. According to him, the government was interested in developing the region and to promote peace.
The Minister of Interior Affairs, Maj-Gen Abbe (rtd) on his part said the N50 billion for the panel on amnesty was not for arms buyback.
â€œIt was a successful meeting. We had frank discussions. I am not worried that in spite of moves to grant amnesty, some militants are still destroying oil facilities. They will stop. I am a Nigerian. I am positive that they will stop. Nobody is happy with what is going on. It has to stop if our country must develop.
â€œWe will not single out any individual. Amnesty is not directed at a particular person. It is directed at all Nigerians. All militants in the delta region, who felt aggrieved and had participated in militancy in the pursuit of genuine agitation, towards the development of the state. They are our focus. No individual is isolated. Everyone involved in genuine agitation will receive amnesty.
â€œDo not get scared of the amount (N50 billion for the panel on amnesty, which is not in 2009 budget and where to raise the sum). Amnesty or proclamation is not a one day exercise. There are several stages beyond now. The N50 billion may just be a part of it.
It is not the FG alone that will take it up, it will involve everybody, but not for arms buyback.â€
Militant leaders opt for amnesty by proxy
The trio of â€˜Generalâ€™ Boyloaf, Soboma George and Farah Dagogo who spoke through an organisation, Niger Delta Non-Violent Movement, in Port Harcourt yesterday said they were apprehensive that they could be arrested if they turned up in person.
They recalled a recent case in Rivers State when a militant leader, Soboma Jackrich, also known as Egberipapa came out out hiding to participate in peace talks in his home town, Buguma some months ago, and ended up being picked up by the Joint Task Force in the state.
They also recalled that Asari Dokubo, at a time embraced peace but was arrested, prosecuted and detained for several months.
â€œThese experiences have put a snag and doubt on the peace process. Therefore the so-called militants want a guarantee that what had befallen their colleagues should not befall them in the guise of amnesty.â€
The statement by president and the secretary of the body, Onengiya Erekosima and Opuwill Aytu said the militant leaders and others had resolved that they would be represented by their â€œwitnesses who will be appointed by them to discuss on the amnesty and press for certain conditions and viewpoints.â€
Militants make demands
The militants also called on the Federal Government to ensure that their names are expunged from any criminal records in the country â€œon the logic that they are products of governmentâ€™s intransigence on the Niger Delta question, victims of the political classâ€™ extreme lust for power and rabid ambition, children of necessity of the highhandedness and violent suppression of the Niger Delta struggle by the JTF, fallouts of mercenary elders who feed fat from the struggle of the Niger Delta people. If the so-called militants are criminals, then all these parties are also criminals and therefore need their own amnesty.â€
They added that â€œthe names of those to be granted amnesty should be backed by law to ease their rehabilitation in society and not to be prosecuted by future governments.â€
The militants also called for the unconditional release of their leader, Henry Okah and further asked the Federal Government to drop all charges against Asari Dokubo, Soboma George and Soboma Jackrich, aka Egberipapa.
Arms collection centres
Meanwhile, the Federal Government would require a whopping N19,109,746, 000:00 (Nineteen billion, one hundred and nine million, seven hundred and forty six thousand naira) to disarm the militants in the Niger Delta in pursuit of its amnesty deal being proposed just as it would set up 46 arms collection centres in the nine states of the Niger Delta. An initial grant of N109,000,000:00 (One hundred and nine million naira) as take off money would be required to carry out the exercise.
The arms collection points are also to be located very â€œclose to military installations and manned by personnel of the security servicesâ€.
The â€œrecovered arms are to be fully documented and taken away immediately to storage facilities in the nearest military unitsâ€.
Also, the â€œNigerian Army Ordnance Corps in collaboration with DICON (Defence industries Corporation) staff could assist in documentation and examination of the recovered arms and ammunition to determine their origin and ultimate disposal actionâ€.
These are some of the proposals in the report of the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmanent of Militants in the Niger Delta regarding disarmament and demobilisation of the militants.
The arms collection points and holding camps are listed as follows in the panelâ€™s report:
RIVERS STATE: Okirika â€“ Bonny axis; Buguma â€“ Calabari; Andoni â€“ Opobo â€“ Rivers;
Gokana; Port Harcourt 1; Port Harcourt 2; Port Harcourt 3; Egbema; Ahoada; Ogbakiri; Omoku; Okwuzi; Obagi; Elele Almini.
BAYELSA STATE: Sagbama, Ogbia Town, Brass Terminal, Yenegoa, Oporoma, Kaiama, Nembe, Ekeowei.
DELTA STATE: Warri, Ughelli, Egwa1, Egwa 2, Saghara, Escravos, Kwale, Upomami, Burutu, Koko.
EDO STATE: Gelegele, Benin City.
AKWA IBOM: Oron, Eket, Abak, Ikot Abasi, Urual.
CROSS RIVER STATE: Akpabuyo, Anatigha.
ABIA STATE: Ndoki, Akwete.
IMO STATE: Obirinze, Egbema.
ONDO STATE: Igbokoda, Gbekebo.
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 tomorrow. President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua would then be expected to announce to the nation the outcome of the meeting.