By Emma Amaize
Warri – Participants at a workshop organized by the Human Rights Defenders Organization of Nigeria (HURDON) in Warri, Delta State on the amnesty granted militants by the Federal Government have urged freedom fighters in the Niger-Delta region not to surrender their arms, as the Federal Government has no post-amnesty plan for revolutionists.
In a communiquÃ© issued at the end of the workshop, signed by HURDON chairman, Mr. Casely Omon-Irabor, the participants said it was wrong for President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to refer to the freedom fighters as militants, as they are revolutionists and rights activists.
They also queried Mr. Presidentâ€™s right to grant amnesty to freedom fighters, saying, â€œAmnesty is not outright provision in the Nigeria Constitution, rather we have prerogative of mercy and state pardon (section 175 and 212 of 1999 Constitution), which are granted to convicted criminalsâ€
According to the communiquÃ©, â€œThat the freedom fighters have not been convicted by any court of law, so they do not deserve amnesty or state pardon or prerogative of mercyâ€.
They commended the six Niger Delta Governors for threatening to back out of the amnesty deal but urged them to translate their efforts to better utilization of available resources to develop the Niger Delta region.
â€œAll money accruing to NDDC should be paid to fast track development to the Niger Delta;Â the 50 billion allocated to the Amnesty committee should be allocated to the development of educational sectors within the region; theÂ Nigerian Defence Academy, Nigeria School of Aviation should be relocated to the Niger Delta Region; political office holders in the Niger Delta should be more selfless by using all available resources to redevelop the area that have been destroyed by the Federal invadersâ€, they stated.
â€œIf the Federal Government refuses to revert to the status-quo ante-Bellum, we shall ask all Niger Deltaâ€™s holding any political position in the Federal Government to resign and come home for the actualization of self determination and the declaration of the Republic of Niger Deltaâ€, they added.