June 19, 2009

N-Assembly, Govs, others okay FG’s amnesty deal

By Daniel Idonor
ABUJA — AFTER a meeting that lasted more than three hours, President Umaru Yar’Adua, the leadership of the National Assembly and other key stakeholders including governors of the Niger Delta states yesterday adopted the report of the Presidential Committee for Amnesty and Disarmament for Militants in the Niger-Delta.

The report will be presented to the National Council of State (NCS) at its meeting, next Thursday, for ratification.

Senate President, David Mark and Speaker, House of Representatives,  Dimeji Bankole

Senate President, David Mark and Speaker, House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole

The Council of State meeting is to be proceeded by the proclamation of the amnesty in a brief ceremony which will be personally performed by President Yar’Adua on that day, where a document, legalising government’s grant of amnesty would be signed and sealed.

President Yar’Adua had on Wednesday summoned a special meeting on the Niger Delta to discuss the terms of the amnesty offered to militants as well as unfold his agenda for security and development in the oil-producing region as contained in the report of the amnesty panel.

In attendance at the meeting were Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Speaker of the House of Representatives,  Dimeji Bankole; Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom, Engr Patrick Ekpotu; Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Peremobowei Ebebi; Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel  Uduaghan;  Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko and Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi.

Others include the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike; Minister of Defence, Alhaji Shettima Mustapha and Minister of Interior, Brig-Gen. Godwin Abbe (rtd), who is also the Chairman of the Amnesty Committee.

Briefing State House Correspondents, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Olusegun Adeniyi, disclosed that Bri-Gen Abbe (rtd) has accepted to be the Chairman of the amnesty implementation committee which was agreed to be constituted at the yesterday’s meeting.

“According to him, “it was decided that the president will hold meeting with the Council of State next Thursday after which the proclamation of the amnesty will be announced the same day”.

Asked on the terms of the amnesty, the Presidential Spokesman said that “that is what the president will reveal next Thursday after the Council of State meeting”.

According to him, “the meeting started 2.30PM almost for three and half hours. The input of the governors, service chiefs, ministers was very revealing, the president benefited from the experience of the some of the governors in the Niger Delta”.

He also confirmed that the president will address Nigerians on that day; stressing “I think there is going to be an address by the president and then there will be a legal document which the president will sign.”