By Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HARCOURT—About 3,000 youths from Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State have allegedly laid down their arms after listening to motivating sermons by a cleric, Rev. Father Abel Abulu, in the creek.
Those who renounced cultism reportedly s
urrendered different kinds of weapons to the clergyman in charge of St. Patrick Catholic Church, Bodo, and Gokana Peace Ambassadors, GPA.
Recall that several attempts by the Rivers State amnesty committee, led by Mr. Ken Chinda, to grant amnesty to cultists in the area proved abortive, as the boys had refused to release guns, claiming that they do not operate with guns.
After the youths declined the state’s amnesty programme in two separate events, the GPA took up intervention measures to restore peace in the area based on the rise in the spate of violence and other criminal activities.
Vanguard learned that the cleric and members of GPA went into the creeks to preach peace to the cultists.
Denbesi Isaac, one of the repentant cultists, said they were tired of living in the bush and called on the state government to join efforts with the Christian community and the GPA to ensure adequate empowerment of the boys.
Isaac said: “We thank God that we are alive today. It was the Rev. Father’s preaching that made us to change our minds.
“To me it is the handiwork of God.
“We are calling on the state government to include us in their amnesty programme. They should train and empower us so that we would not think of going back to our past lives.”
The President of GPA, Kpakol Aleema-Kpakol, said the group decided to embark on peace move because of wide spread of violence which has claimed several lives.
He thanked Abulu for his commitment in the peace process and urged the state government to include the repentant cultists in the amnesty programme in the interest of peace and development.