By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”The Chairman of Bayelsa State chapter of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee, Chief James Japthah, weekend shed light on how Bayelsa militants were wooed to embrace the Federal Governmentâ€™s amnesty package.
He dismissed as fabrication claims by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) that the state governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, paid militant leaders N250 million before the August 7 meeting with the president at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja, describing those involved in the claims as mischief makers and enemy of the region.
Chief Japthah said the massive arm submission by 16 militant leaders and five cult groups in the state should not be a subject of political attack and fictitious statement as issued by MEND, butÂ should be considered a voluntary action by the repentant militants for peace and development in the region.
Japthah, who spoke with newsmen in Yenagoa after the official display of arms and ammunitions surrendered at the Peace Park at the weekend, said the issues involved should be that of sustaining the amnesty plan and the gains that will come.
He said his committee was deeply involved in the facilitation of the Aso Rock meeting between the 32 militant leaders and the President, adding that he spent his personal funds on transportation and hotel accommodation for the militants while in Abuja .
He said:Â Â â€œThe issue of N250 million to commander Boyloaf is a fabrication. I personally went into the creeks and brought out the militants for the meeting.
â€œWhen we were cash-trapped as a committee to facilitate the meeting, I contacted the governor to help with the hotel accommodation money and he personally assisted with N.8m.Even part of the money were those handed the boys to give their families before the meeting.
â€œWhere then did these people see N250 million? It is a deliberate attempt to rubbish the effort of the state.â€
He said the success recorded in the state was further assisted by the fact that 90 per cent of the militants were tired of staying in the creeks, adding that â€œas at the time of the dropping of arms by the militants, only one militant leader is being expected to disarm.â€
He, however, expressed happiness in the role played by the committee in facilitating and co-ordinating the initiative. s
â€œThe disarmament witnessed is a stage for a wider programme which will involve demobilization, rehabilitation and re-integration.Â We cannot, therefore, afford to be carried away by the success achieved at this level, but concentrate efforts to ensure that all other stages in the program come through effectively,â€ he said.
How I rescued kidnapped INEC officials â€”Edo DCP
By Simon Ebegbulem & Gabriel Enogholase
Commissioner of Police in Edo state, Mr. Olufemi Adenaike, yesterday narrated how he rescued a team of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deployed to AiyegunleÂ to conduct the re-run House of Assembly election in Akoko Edo constituency 1 from the resident of a top chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where they were allegedly held hostage by him for several hours.
The Police boss, who spoke with newsmen in Benin City weekend to correct the earlier impression given by PDP chieftains in the area that electoral materials were snatched by thugs