By Anayo Okoli

Umuahia — ABIA State Government has officially declared amnesty for all kidnappers and perpetrators of other violent crimes in the state. The amnesty, which began yesterday, and also covers hoodlums’ sponsors, will last for two weeks.

Consequently, the government has called on all repentant kidnappers and other criminals to bring out all their arms and lay them down at designated centres located in the Abia South Senatorial District.

Proclaiming the amnesty through a state-wide radio broadcast, Governor Theodore Orji said that the state government had discussed with the relevant federal agencies to key the repentant kidnappers and criminals into the Federal Government amnesty package, which the repentant militants in the Niger Delta are already enjoying.

Arms collection centres
The Governor named the designated centres for the collection of illegal arms and weapons being used by the kidnappers to include Asa High School in Ukwa West Local Government Area,  Ukpakiri Primary School in Obingwa Local Government Area, and Mbutu-Ukwu Central School in Isialangwa South Local Government Area.

Orji, who noted that the Federal Government “unjustly excluded Abia State and her youths from the amnesty programme, even when it is known that the state is an oil-producing one and within the Niger-Delta region with preponderance of evidence that Abia youths were involved in the militant activities necessitating the amnesty programme.”

Calling on the kidnappers and their sponsors to embrace the programme, Governor Orji said that his administration has been doing a lot to ensure that the youths in the state do not go astray, including a law that makes kidnapping a capital offence.

He urged them to key into the programme and change   for the better.

Why amnesty?

According to him, “government cannot and will not fold its arms and watch a sizeable generation of its youths being wasted by either security agents in their onslaught to check criminal activities or by their self-chosen dangerous life-style and has therefore decided to follow the footsteps of the Federal Government.

“Therefore, Abia State government is calling on all kidnappers and perpetrators of other violent crime and their sponsors to bring out their arms and lay them down.”

While asking for the support of everybody, Orji said that the activities of kidnappers had stalled development in communities whose youths get involved in it.

“In communities where these crime thrive, it has brought all developmental plans to a halt because no investor or even government can engage in any meaningful enterprise in the such places,” the Governor said.

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