By Tordue Salem, Abuja

The House of Representatives has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly appoint a substantive Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

The Motion urging the President to do so is sponsored by Rep. Preye Influence Oseke (PDP-Bayelsa)

The Amnesty Programme was set by Late President Umaru Yar’Adua on Friday the 25th day of June 2009 to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate armed militants into communities with benefits such as opportunities in education as well as financial stipends for those who surrender beto peace.

But the lawmaker, in raising his Motion, said “the Presidential programme has not been able to achieve its ultimate objective of reintegrating all ex-agitators as originally envisioned”, noting that ” the absence of a substantive Coordinator for the Programme is creating a vacuum that makes it difficult for the programme to be managed meaningfully, transparently and brought to a logical end”.

He expressed concern that “since Friday 28th February 2020”, there is no substantive head appointed to run the agency.

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According to him, “the erstwhile Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Professor Charles Quaker Dokubo was suspended from office by the President, on the heels of numerous allegations and petitions surrounding the Presidential Amnesty Programme which prompted the National Security Adviser (NSA) to set up a Technical Committee to look into the activities of the programme”, but expressed worries that ” the Presidential Amnesty Programme‘s inability to meet its mandate has culminated in several civil disorders including the blocking of the EastWest Road by ex-agitators at different times”.

He said it was disturbing “that a technical committee was mandated to oversee the programme. a development that has, in no little way, slowed down activities of the programme, though the introduction of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes have become common practice in countries emerging from violent conflict, the most difficult aspect is the successful and long-term reintegration of former combatants into civil life”.

He said “the prevailing peace in the Niger Delta region, is directly proportional to the quantum of crude oil production in the country, as he noted that “ongoing research projects by international development agencies have identified that amnesty initiatives fail and fall apart when neither accompanied by meaningful and durable reintegration nor deep-seated socio-economic problems that are tackled simultaneously”.

He informed the House that “recommendations of a recent publication of the Niger Delta Dialogue Secretariat, a European Union-funded research project, the insecurity in the Niger Delta region is caused by militancy, cultism, sea piracy. communal disputes, kidnapping for ransom and electoral violence, vices that could be checked by meaningfully engaging youths of the area, with a specific call on the Presidential Amnesty Programme to live up to its mandate of conclusive reintegration of ex-agitators”.

He however worried that “swiftly following the suspension of the former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, was the appointment of a successor Acting Chairman, Mohammed Umar; while the experience of the President Amnesty Programme for the Niger Delta region, both under similar circumstances was treated differently”.

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He also regretted that “the ongoing programmes of the Presidential Amnesty Programme have, as attested to by critical stakeholders, suffered huge setback as a consequence of the absence of an Acting Coordinator, and as such negatively impacted on the security situation in the Niger Delta region in no little way”.

He alleged that “youths of the region are gradually resorting to unlawful means of agitation for the development of the region including militancy, a development that is capable of undermining the peace, security, order and good governance thus jeopardising already-gained mileage in institutionalizing an unencumbered economy of the nation”.

The lawmaker said he was afraid “that should there be a fresh outbreak of heightened insecurity in the Niger Delta region, the security apparatus of our country will be avoidably stretched beyond measure”.

The House adopted his motion and prayers, and urged “the House Committee on National Security to interface with relevant agencies of government in ensuring that a substantive Coordinator for the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the Niger Delta region is urgently appointed in order to dowse the already-growing tension in the region”.

He House also urged the National Security Adviser to the President, and the Chief of Defence Staff, as a matter of urgent national security concern, to advise the President to appoint a Coordinator for the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the Niger Delta region, with a clear mandate to optimally actualise the objective of the programme, thus bringing it to a successful conclusion like other disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes in other parts of the world”


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