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Ex-militants in Moscow attack

THE attack on the Nigerian Embassy by ex-Niger Delta militants studying at the People’s Friendship University, Moscow is another such incident of unruliness.

The students were said to have been irked by the non-remittance of their September allowances, as well as tardiness of officials in attending to their health needs.

After the attack that resulted in the cancellation trade talks between Abuja and Moscow, the Amnesty Office announced the withdrawal of six students from the scholarship programme. They were the alleged ring leaders.

The measure was taken, the Amnesty Office said, because the students committed a gross misconduct contrary to their signed undertakings before they proceeded on the course. It was also meant as a deterrent to other beneficiaries of the programme.

Ex-militants have been involved in some infractions, including the clash last year at Igbinedion University, Okada, in which two students died.

Often, complaints of the ex-militants are ignored. Last year, 67 of them were withdrawn from a programme in a Turkish school — it was not their fault. Mid-way through their programme, the Amnesty Office discovered the school’s programmes were not accredited.

How were the students in Moscow expected to survive without their allowances? How were they to cater for their sick colleagues? That the educational opportunities extended to them are meant to convert them to skilled citizens, who would contribute to the greatness of society cannot excuse the weak management of the programme.

We do not support lawlessness. The students portrayed the nation in bad light in the eyes of the world but so did those, who failed to cater for them.

The ex-militants should appreciate magnanimity Nigeria extended to them through the amnesty programme. They should start conditioning themselves to living within the law, and using legitimate processes in resolving their concerns.

We call on the many non-governmental organisations and activists that canvassed the amnesty package, including the educational re-orientation, to play their roles in getting the beneficiaries of the post-amnesty programme to adjust themselves to a life of personal endeavour, as government will not continue to run the programme indefinitely.

However, the Amnesty Office has to lift the cloak of secrecy that pervades its operations; it is one of the ways of getting assistance and aligning its operations with national expectations of openness founded on the law.

The authorities, particularly the National Assembly, should look more closely at the amnesty programme to forestall further ugly incidents. It is possible the operations require more resources; it is also possible that the challenge is management of available resources. Whatever it is, the conduct of some ex-militants under rehabilitation raises questions about the implementation of the amnesty programme. The concerns are not totally new.


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