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RIVERS AC URGES “RELUCTANT” MILITANTS TO DISARM AND EMBRACE AMNESTY TO AVOID PUTTING COMMUNITIES AT RISK OF MILITARY CRACKDOWN

By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,

The Rivers AC has lent its voice to that of many, who in the wake of the Amnesty declaration by government, are concerned by the reluctance of certain parties to lay down arms. The AC has noted that failure to down arms will ultimately result in a “Fragile Peace in the Region”, resulting in the continued threat of a military crackdown hanging over the region still smarting from the effects of the Gbaramatu. It has therefore become imperative that we alert everyone to the danger their actions portend for the peace of the region.

Our plea notwithstanding, we have never endorsed the half baked amnesty declaration as the strategy for resolving this Niger Delta Crisis, especially in the context of the Federal Government's failure to address the core issues behind the agitation and its gross neglect of the recommendations of the Presidential Technical Committee. Our leader's recent parley with Dokubo Asari on the need for the rest of the NDPVF to accept amnesty which was a follow up to the peace brokered between himself and Amaechi revealed that many are dissatisfied with the absence of a post amnesty plan and the insincerity of government. Discussions have also taken place with Ateke Tom and Fara Dagogo. Also along the same lines and also based around similar fears. It appears that regardless of their initial concerns a significant breakthrough is imminent.

Let us use this opportunity to advise the government to discourage the stealth witch hunting of people under the banner of “rooting out militants” in spite of an ongoing amnesty. It is confused signals like this that have left some unwilling and outside the loop. Dokubo Asari is deliberately nonchalant about the amnesty for personal reasons he has explained. Fortunately however with the persuasion of our leader and Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi he has ordered his remaining people to feel free, take it up and participate in full. With the amnesty expiration date of October 4th, 2009 at hand, our plea stems from the love and concern for our future and our region. It is quite sad to note that the Nation's crude production has fallen so low, allowing Angola to take the No 1 spot and become the largest producer in the sub-Saharan region. One dares to imagine what will become of us tomorrow if this issue is not resolved. The current lull should be seen as an opportunity not a victory. It is far far too fragile and premature for that.

At the risk of seeming to validate acts of militancy, we make bold to say that if the truth be told, nobody can wish away the part the militants played in bringing to the International Community's consciousness the plights and travails of the Niger Delta region. Be that as it may, we want to use this forum to commend Soboma George, Egbema One, Alex Priye, Africa, Ogumbus, General Boy Loaf and others for embracing the amnesty offer and turning a new leaf. Times have changed. Let us give intellectual militancy a chance. Guns kill. Anyone.

The tireless efforts of the Governors of the region and Timi Alaibe in ensuring that some of the boys are brought out from the creeks is worthy of note. In this vein, Alhaji Dokubo Asari who in recent times has proven that he is interested in the restoration of peace to the region must also be commended. We take this opportunity to plead with the FG to collaborate with him, Henry Okah, Government Ekpempulo aka Tompolo, Chief E. K. Clarke and other leaders and stakeholders of the region to ensure militancy in the region becomes a thing of the past. We need peace to advance development, to encourage and invite investors, to assist in reconstruction of the region and help provide jobs. These and more were devastated by the effects of militancy but more by the effects of neglect by the local, state and federal governments.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
Publicity Secretary, Rivers State AC.