6th September, 2011
Following the protest in Bayelsa State today by Niger Delta ex-militants who want to be included in the â€˜Third Phaseâ€™ of the Amnesty Programme, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and the Chief Executive Officer of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku has clarified that the Amnesty Programme does not have a Third Phase.
Hon. Kuku is reiterating that the Amnesty Office is not admitting and has not been directed by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, to admit new entrants into the Amnesty Programme for former agitators in the Niger Delta.
It is the firm view of Hon. Kuku that this clamour for the inclusion of more persons in the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme is unhealthy and clearly offends the letter and spirit of the 2009 Amnesty Proclamation.
He reminded the persons championing the arbitrary inclusion of more persons in the programme that on June 25, 2009, the Federal Government of Nigeria proclaimed amnesty for specific persons in the Niger Delta with a view to resolving the protracted insecurity in the zone.
According to Kuku,”the terms of the amnesty included the willingness and readiness of agitators to surrender their arms, unconditionally renounce militancy and sign an undertaking to this effect.”
He stated that in return, “the government pledged its commitment to institute programmes to assist the disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and re-integration of the former agitators. Success has since been achieved in the disarmament phase of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme and very soon, the demobilisation component of the programme shall come to an end.”
He explained further that 26,358 persons (in two phases) accepted the offer of amnesty at the expiration of the deadline.
According to a statement signed by Mr Henry Ugbolue, the image maker of Presidential Amnesty Programme, “pursuant to the commitment made to the former agitators, the Federal Government through the Amnesty Office is currently demobilising, rehabilitating and reintegrating the Niger Delta amnesty beneficiaries.”
Kuku further stated that “the clamour for the expansion of the programme to admit more persons is a distraction that could do immense harm to the programme.”
Kuku urged champions of this cause to desist.
He acknowledged the fact that a number of the youths clamouring to be included in the programme are truly seeking avenues for empowerment, training or employment and urges them to avail themselves of the services and laudable programmes of their respective state governments as well as other organs and agencies of the Federal Government such as the Ministry of the Niger Delta, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), SMEDAN, PTDF, etc.
Kuku reiterated the commitment of the Amnesty Office to the vision of President Jonathan to consolidate peace, safety, security and development in the Niger Delta using the platform of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme.
By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt