By Emma Amaize
WARRI â€” REPENTANT militants in the Niger-Delta have turned downÂ the directive by the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Militants to report to camp for rehabilitation latest yesterday, saying the rehabilitation plan in its entirety was not clear to them.
The ex-militants mandated its leaders to meet with the Amnesty Committee and sort out the grey areas and also raised a committee to mend the crack between Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state and ex-warlord, Ateke Tom.
The committee, which includes Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, was said to have left for Port-Harcourt yesterday afternoon.
The decisions were taken at a meeting of the ex-militants held on Tuesday at Effurun, Delta State. No communiquÃ© was issued at the end of the meeting which dragged into the late hours.
A dependable source hinted that the chairman of the Amnesty Committee and Minister of Defence, Major-General Abbe (rtd) was already aware of the decision of the ex-militants and was in touch with their leaders to resolve the issues raised.
Among the ex-militant leaders at the meeting were theÂ formerÂ Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, who was the chief host; Ateke Tom, George Soboma, John Togo, Egbema I, Ezekiel Akpasebewa of the Deadly Underdogs, â€œGeneralâ€ Ogunbos, Shoot-At-Sight, Young-Shall-Grow and others.
Besides the ex-militants, the national president of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC,Â Dr. Chris Ekiyor, secretary of the Presidential Committee on Peace and Conflict Resolution, Kingsley Kuku, human rights activist, Ms. Ann Kio Briggs were also at the meeting. Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan addressed them at the opening session.
National president of the IYC, Dr. Ekiyor, declined to speak to Vanguard when contacted yesterday on the decisions reached at the meeting, saying, â€œWe are still in the planning stageâ€.
It was gathered that the ex-militants resolved that some of their leaders be included in the sub-committee that is in charge of rehabilitation to ensure a smooth programme and the Minister was expecting the list of suggested members yesterday for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council.
Major-General Abbe (rtd) had, at a meeting of the leaders of the ex-militants and the panel on November 3, in Abuja, directed that the first batch of 3,000Â ex-militants should report to camp between then and November 11 for rehabilitation.
The two camps that were established are at Agbarho in Delta State and Alu in Rivers State while plans were afoot to set up another one in Bayelsa state after the committee finalised talks with the governor, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Abbe said then, â€œBut be that as it may, the call up will not work effectively unless you participate.
â€œIn the process, we are going to have the opportunities of discussing with every individual as to the type of training that individual will be interested in. When we have done that and we are satisfied, we will move to the next stage of dispersing everyone who has been categorised into the various institutions of their choice.
â€œSome who will want to go to school because they stopped schooling will also go and continue their school; those who want to go to the university should know that university admission are over now, so those who want to go to university should wait and prepare for admissions examinationsâ€, he added.
Efforts by Vanguard, yesterday, to get comments from the Minister of Defence were unsuccessful, as he was said to be busy. His cell phone rang out with a voice message that the caller should leave a message and he would get back to him later. Vanguard left a message, but there was no response as at press time.
One of the ex-militant leaders, nevertheless, told Vanguard, â€œWe are not saying that we are boycotting the rehabilitation programme, no, we have not turned it down. We are saying that we are not going to participate in the programme right now the way itâ€™s designed because itâ€™s not clear to us, that is what we have said and we have mandated our leaders to discuss with the Amnesty Committee.
â€œFor instance, if our boys report to camp today (yesterday), what will they do there, there is nothing on ground, the plans are not clear yet, so we want to be sure of what is on ground firstâ€, he said.
Vanguard learnt that there was a widespread complaint by ex-militants at the meeting on the activities of the Amnesty Committee in the various states and the leaders were asked to sort out the problems before proceeding with the rehabilitation aspect.