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  • News - South South - Delta
  • Updated: January 24, 2024

Ex-Niger Delta militant seeks amnesty for bandits, others

Ex-Niger Delta militant seeks amnesty for bandits, others

Former leader of Niger Delta agitators, Eshanakpe Israel, better known as Akpodoro has called on President Bola Tinubu to follow in the footsteps of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua by granting amnesty to the insurgents, bandits and ethnic militias currently destabilising the country to end insecurity.

Akpodoro in a statement noted that it has become necessary for the Federal Government to adopt a carrot-and-stick approach to resolve the security challenge, adding that the military alone would not be enough to address the menace.

Akpodoro who holds the honorary title of the Mayor of Urhoboland explained that a new amnesty programme coordinated by state governors should be set up to get thousands of criminal elements in every state to lay down their arms and become part of the community policing structure in their respective domains.

He said this “is because it is the best approach to stem the tide of insecurity currently ravaging the coup try”.

Akpodoro noted that the repentant armed men would be trained by the government under the proposed new amnesty programme and paid stipends monthly for several years until they are morally fit to fend for themselves, stressing that the same beneficiaries of the programme would, in turn, be enlisted into civilian components of the state security apparatus.

The ex-militant said, “Granting amnesty to repentant bandits, insurgents, hostage takers and other sundry criminals will automatically cut down the crime rate in the country and this can begin with a national summit of critical stakeholders on national security to map the strategies for the success of the proposed amnesty programme.”

Akpodoro pointed out that the late Yar’Adua would be remembered for his sincerity and boldness in declaring the Presidential Amnesty for the Niger Delta militants.

He added, “Little did the nation know that the non-kinetic approach could stem the tide of the raging military onslaught that was fast metamorphosing into full-blown war.

“Giving the then insurgents shield was the terrain (creeks), which the alien forces couldn’t navigate, giving the militants more impetus to launch an offensive on the oil and gas facilities then.

“During those confrontations, the militants broke into camps feeding their central command information and claiming victory most of the time. Jomo Gbomo was handy at every point in time to announce every progress made by the rag-tag militias.

“It was an era marked by ethnic agitations and responses from the government at the time. Then, the military reaction was that of kinetic approach which in every sense of it wasn’t successful as it ended in no victor no vanquish at the declaration of the amnesty programme.”

Akpodoro urged Tinubu to collaborate with the state governments to grant amnesty to all criminal elements in the country under the national security architecture, enjoining the various levels of government to put security votes to use effectively, adding that it is not meant to be pocketed by the helmsmen at the states.

He stated that he has assisted the Federal Government several times in the past to address militancy in the Niger Delta and that he is ready to work with the current administration in any capacity to bring peace to the region and the country in general.

The ex-militant leader stated that hardened criminals have occupied the entire geographical space of the country with different appellations and that each state is host to about five thousand such suspected criminals.

He said against this development, state governments must bear part of the financial burden of the proposed amnesty.

Akpodoro noted that most criminals are willing to drop their arms if they are given the assurance of their safety and protection by the authorities, saying, “Give them amnesty and watch kidnappers, insurgents and bandits drop their arms.

“The governors must be made to work with the central government by putting their security votes into action. We as a people have complained for too long. Enough is enough for lamentations, and this is the only seeming way to carry everybody along in our national drive to end security threats.

“Drop your arms and enjoy your stipend from the amnesty programme. Our forests harbour criminals, and only repentant criminals can uproot them. Please send them to the creeks, forests, and highways as we see in both the Kogi and Edo axis of our highways and see crimes reduced drastically. Disarmament and rehabilitation are the way out of our security quagmire.”

He called on the Federal Government to involve the National Orientation Agency in the re-orientation of the youth population, to tinker with their value system.

He added, “The political elites, too, would have to be challenged to parade wealth less than they do so as not to inadvertently provoke the younger generations to crimes.”

The ex-agitator disclosed that he would offer himself for such a national assignment where he would lead, manage, and coordinate repentant criminals under the new amnesty programme.

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