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Amnesty: Militants demand N3bn for arms

*Want N.3m per AK-47 rifle surrendered, 3-bedroom flat for each militant

By Emma Amaize, Jimitota Onoyume & Luka Binniyat
ABUJA — THE Move ment for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and other militants are asking that the Federal Government should add to their term of amnesty, payment of N300,000 per AK-47 rifle and two magazines returned.

MEND is also asking that each member of its members be built a three bedroom apartment of relatively good comfort, but would pay back for the house  in ten years.

This was made known to newsmen by Chief Mediator of MEND and other militant groups in the amnesty discussion, Prince Joseph Etella Harry.

Harry is a nephew of the slain Marshal Harry.

“Sequel to our tenable negations with commanders of militants involved, the right and realistic approach is the irrevocable recovery of arms obtained illegally.

“To completely and permanently resolved the crisis in the Niger Delta, the following  terms must be unequivocally ascertained”, he said.

“The FG shall pay N300,000 per an AK47 and two magazines.
“The Federal Government shall construct sustainable three bedroom flats at low cost. The buildings which must be constructed in their places of choice within the Niger Delta, shall be exclusively for militants and sundry youths who shall undertake to pay the cost due within ten years.”

According to him, the MEND and other “generals” in other camps have promised to surrender not less that 10,000 arms within the first phase of the amnesty if there demands are reached.
“With this in mind, we want about N3 billion transferred to us, through our management”, he said.

According to him, the militants have also agreed to free seven oil wells, in the first one week, if government agrees to the terms Harry who later hosted some of the “generals” to a dinner in Abuja, said that most of the militants find it hard to trust mediators, but that he has been working with them for long, trying to bring peace in the region, like his late Uncle, Marshal Harry.

He said that within one month, if the FG puts efforts at meeting these demands, “the war would be over for ever”

MEND not interested in meeting Yar’Adua

Meanwhile, MEND has said it is not interested in face-to-face talks with President Umaru Yar’Adua, as long as he takes appropriate decisions that will lead to the resolution of the Niger-Delta crisis.

Also, the group’s leader, Henry Okah, has met with the former Chief of General Staff; Admiral Mike Akhigbe to persuade him to be part of the militant group’s negotiating team.

Already, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe, is said to have met with the leader of MEND, Henry Okah and other key figures in the militant group to chart a way forward.

Spokesman of MEND, Jomo Gbomo, in an exclusive e-mail response to an inquiry by Vanguard, however, said “We (MEND) are still consulting and hope that before the expiration of the 60-day ceasefire, the team can discuss with the President’s envoy.”

His words, “We are not interested in any direct talks with the President. There are some of us that crave such meetings and those are in the minority and they are doing so for selfish monetary gains. As long as the President gets our message from Timi Alaibe or from the pages of newspapers, meeting him is not as important as the actions he takes to bring about the change every Nigerian now craves for, such as fiscal federalism”.

He nevertheless said, “The Aaron team has not been put in place, but we are already making progress in taking a common position on the demands to be made”.

He confirmed that Henry Okah had met with the former Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe Okah and others, adding, “We are also intime”.

On Timi Alaibe, he asserted that the special adiviser “is now in touch with some key figures and he has met with Henry Okah from what we gather”.

NDDC urges miltants to embrace amnesty

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on its part appealed to militants to embrace the amnesty offer by the Federal Government.

Acting Managing Director of the Commission, Mr. Power Aginighan, who made the appeal yesterday in Port Harcourt during the commissioning of a health centre built and furnished by the Commission for Tereama community, Port Harcourt, said militants should see the amnesty offer as an opportunity for them to be properly reintegrated into

society so they could also be active players in the drive to develop the region.
Aginighan who blamed some of the conflicts and tension in the region on the failure of some firms operating in the region to effectively discharge their social responsibility to their host communities said as an institution, the NDDC was ready to go into meaningful partnership for the development of the area.

Hold FG liable if… — Omolubi

Human rights activist, Comrade Omolubi Newuwumi has said the Federal Government should be held responsible if the amnesty it proclaimed for militants fails because it is showing insincerity to the Niger-Delta with its recent actions on the Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun, near Warri, Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and other policies.

He applauded the decision of the South-South governors to back out of the Federal Government amnesty programme for militants and called on Senators and members of House of Representatives members from the geo-graphical zone to follow suit.


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