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Amnesty: FG panel to negotiate with militants, not proxies

Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 6, Calabar,  Mr. Azubukoh Joel Udah, who is a member of the committee told our correspondent on telephone yesterday…

Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 6, Calabar,  Mr. Azubukoh Joel Udah, who is a member of the committee told our correspondent on telephone yesterday that the shift in the modus operandi is necessitated by the unwholesome development of representatives of the militants, lawyers and others alike using the exercise to promote their interests.

Mr Udah said “we want to establish direct contacts with the militants themselves. The proxies are pursuing their own aggrandizing agenda.”

Sunday Trust recalls that representatives of militants in talks with the presidential committee had requested for a arms for cash deal from the panel, citing the case of Solomon (aka Osama bin Laden), a militant leader from Ogoni, who was paid N100,000 for each AK-47 gun he surrendered.   

He however denied that the panel paid such an amount to the repentant Ogoni militant leader, disclosing that the committee is presently in Warri, to meet with Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tom Polo) and other militant leaders.  

Speaking at a stakeholders forum in Warri, coordinator of the committee, Air Vice-Marshal Lucky Araride called on the people to stop all forms of protest to give room for development.

‘’You cannot continue to engage in war when there is need for peace. Militancy has been counter-productive. The point has been made and the president has acknowledged that much.

‘’Every Nigerian knows that the Niger Delta has been unjustifiably treated. So a necessary condition for the development of the area is stoppage of violence,’’ he said.

Araride said the amnesty would be in three phases, stressing that the first phase included meeting with the stakeholders and also with the militants in the creeks; the second stage being the disarmament and de-mobilisation of the militants which would demand that the militants submit their arms and sign a form renouncing militancy.

The final stage, he added is the re-integration stage, involving the rehabilitation of the militants.

Meanwhile, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said yesterday that militants who want to accept the amnesty offered by government can go ahead to do so, but that the wanted leader of Camp 5, Tom Polo has turned down government’s offer of amnesty.  

MEND’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, in an e-mail refuted a newspaper story that Polo would surrender, stressing that “Tom Polo has requested that we refute the story carried in the newspaper which claimed he was requesting for the amnesty being proposed by the government to criminals through Chief E. K. Clark.

 “Professor J.P. Clark’s suggestion on armistice as against amnesty for freedom fighters is what MEND and Tom Polo are favourably disposed to for adoption as the next step to take towards resolving the crisis”.   

Similarly, MEND has issued a fresh ultimatum of 72 hours to all oil companies operating in the region to leave or face the wrath of the group, warning that its fighters will attack the multi-billion dollar trans-Sahara gas pipeline.

MEND urged oil firms still operating in the Niger Delta to leave immediately, threatening to carry out new attacks within the next three days.

“Within the next 72 hours Hurricane Piper Alpha will be upgraded to Hurricane Moses,” it warned.

But, the Joint Task Force (JTF) tasked with protecting oil firms and personnel in the Niger Delta region, said it would not allow the militants to thwart the gas project. “The JTF will protect and secure any oil and gas installations in the country. MEND is merely ranting. They cannot succeed,” JTF spokesman, Colonel Rabe Abubakar said.