Ben Okezie

Full reintegration of repentant evil minded persons, with an open hand back into the society by a government, is what amnesty is all about. It is this amnesty that the government of Akwa Ibom extended to 460 militants who claimed to have repented of their past evil and openly embrace the government’s olive leaf of amnesty. Before this period, many heinous crimes perpetrated in the state were linked with these militants.

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Reports disclosed that some communities in Etim Ekpo, Ika and Ukanafun Local Government Areas have consistently been living in fear.

News of killings by Cult members and activities of kidnappers were rife in these local governments.

Truely, no one is doubting the genuineness of their intentions to heed the state government’s call to surrender and accept the option of amnesty. No one is querying what propelled them to move into creeks and be armed as militants. No one is complaining about the list of innocent citizens that were murdered in cold blood for no justifiable reason.

It was therefore a welcome development that the government look d into the security report of the security team and accepted to offer all the repentant militants who showed readiness to embrace the amnesty programme of the state government.

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Indeed, what is worrisome is the ‘chameleonic’ request of the militant members.

However, their real motive was disclosed when the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo in company of all the state security heads was to receive them and he said, the government have seen their request and how they have decided to turn a new leaf in the society. Which to everyone living in those traumatized local governments, was a welcome development. At last the people would heave a sigh of relief. At least the daily killings, kidnappings and cult activities would drastically reduce. Apart from their new “Born Again” stand, those at at the venue who were applauding were cut short when the Deputy Governor also included among their request as praying that some of them should be recruited into the security agencies. It is necessary to recall that these militants provided VIP protection for politicians in the state in the 2014/15 general election. After their assignments, their employers could no longer retain them. Sequel to this integrum, many of them reverted to militancy and perpetrating other criminal activities. It is noble to speak to the consciences of these misguided youths who believe that they can only achieve success with guns. This has become a trend since the country second embraced of democracy. Politicians in Rivers State had recruited hundreds of able bodied youths and freely armed them for political purposes and at the end of their assignment they were abandoned to their fate. It is well known fact that the first generation of the Niger Delta Militants were composed of those rejected political thugs. Though behind us as a nation, but their activities are still fresh in our memory. It is rather unfortunate that the Akwa Ibom militants want to be recruited into security agencies. What a request! That is a slap on the amnesty programme. If they wanted to get recruited into the security agencies from the onset, what prevented them? That they now want to capitalise on the government offer of amnesty to infiltrate the security agencies, would definitely spell doom for the country. Don’t we know that a Leopard can not change its colour. For the mere fact that the Deputy Governor even mentioned the militants request is suggestive of an ulterior motive not only from the state government but on the part of the militants. Would one be wrong if it is adduced that not all the firearms in the possession of the militants were released. So their assumed surrender of their arms and ammunition were not total. The argument can be further stretched by adducing that the politicians who supplied these firearms may have cynically suggested to the militants not to surrender all to the government. This scenario also played out during the administration of late president Shehu Musa Yar ‘Adua. This writer was with the Presidential team that went to Niger Delta to receive the tones of firearms and ammunitions including rocket launchers. Despite the fact that the inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Mbama Okiro led the presidential amnesty team, it was obvious that some percentages of these dangerous weapons were not actually included in the surrender list of weapons by the militant leaders. Obviously despite the presidential amnesty and the surrender of huge cache of weapons, some of the militants still kept back some firearms and ammunitions. That particular presidential amnesty programme ought to be a better template for other amnesty in the country. This is why many security observers are not too comfortable with the procedures and the security profiling of each militant in the state. Despite the conclusion of their assignment, it leaves the impression that their profiling was not very thorough. It has become a norm to find politicians intervening in security issues.

This ought not to be so!

It is sad to note that even retired top security personnels of the state have been very vocal by writing series of protest letters to the state governor not to go ahead with the chameleonic requests of the militants. These are young and vibrant youths who may have dropped out of school or were jobless before their recruitment as political thugs which later metamorphosed into militancy and criminality.

They should be reorientated and send back to institutions of learning in neighboring countries or to trade schools in other parts of the country. These are the best legacies that the state government can leave for them .

Part of the reorientation is to ensure that they are kept away from their former terrain of criminality. After all, they can be said to have been completely rehabilitated.

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