By Davies Iheamnachor, Port-Harcourt
Over 557 cultists in Rivers State have accepted peace and surrendered their weapons to the police in the state
The cultists, who are members of different cult groups in Bodo and other communities in Gokana Local Government Area of the state said the decision was for the interest of peace.
The arms submission was the conclusion of a disarmament exercise and a special delivery session at the St. Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in Bodo community that commenced in the area earlier this month
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Speaking, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Joseph Mukan, said the arms retrieval was jointly carried by the security agencies, adding that the repentant cultists would be closely monitored to ascertain their honesty.
Mukan said: “It was a collective retrieval of arms and ammunition comprising the police and the army. We are trying to see if they genuinely repented so that we see how they can be rehabilitated and possibly we will appeal to the government to give them pardon so that they can go back into the mainstream of the society.
“But first of all, we just have to monitor them to be sure that actually they have repented,” Mukan stated. He also urged the youths to resist any temptation of returning to their old ways or be ready to face the law.”
Meanwhile, the facilitator of the programme, Rev Fr. Abel Abulu, stressed the need to engage the repentant youths in spiritual exercise after they submitted their arms, regretting that Bodo community was a flashpoint of violence.
He pointed out that the youths were exposed to non-violence programmes for months to redirect their minds, noting that the issue of cultism became prevalent in the area after the last general elections.
Abulu said: “The flashpoint of the violence seem to be here in Bodo. But it came to a point when they said indeed we have sinned in our communities, and please forgive us so that we can come back home.
That whole picture of Christ model of reconciliation is the message that this exercise espouses and that is what we have done.”