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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Niger Delta Disarmament Plan

Abuja — Up to 10, 000 militants in the troubled Niger Delta could benefit from the amnesty offered by the federal government aimed at ending the crisis in the region, which has almost crippled the oil industry.

The chief coordinator of the Amnesty Implemen-tation Committee, Air Vice Marshal Lucky Ararile, announced this yesterday in Abuja at a special media dialogue on the status of the amnesty deal.

Ararile also announced that the federal government has budgeted N200 million to feed the targeted 10,000 militants that will turn up to lay down their arms at the 50 to 60 camps spread across the six Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Rivers.

"We are working on about 10,000 militants. Each militant will receive an allowance of N20, 000 per month in addition to N1, 500 per day for food while at a reintegration centre, translating to N65,000 a month.

"Disarmament and demobilisation part of the programme will last 60 days. Thereafter, the reintegration programme is indeterminate," Ararile said.

He said a few militants have already surrendered their arms but declined to give a specific figure.

Ararile continued: "If you compute 20,000 per month by 10,000 ex-militants, we will be talking of billions of naira. This is for the disarmament and demobilization part of the programme, which is for 60 days.

"Their duration at the camps will depend on the things they want to do. Some of skills will be acquired at home while others will be sent to relevant institutions to learn a trade, or back to school for those who want an education.

"For the re-integration centres, we are thinking of either building new ones or renovating structures that are available. But because of time constraint, we may be forced to renovate.
"So in certain cases, we are renovating and in others we will build. The degree of renovation varies from facility to facility but there is no fixed figure on that."

He called on more militants to take advantage of the amnesty offer and commended the level of enthusiasm so far expressed by those who have already surrendered their weapons.

"I think is in the interest of everybody to end this right now. Most Niger Deltans are tired.
"They are now the victims of this whole struggle. It is virtually impossible for development to take place in the Niger Delta today with the level of violence that we have.

"It is not just development that is affected, even our individual social lives have been completely affected."

The Media Coordinator of the committee, Dr. Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, added that the consequences of this crisis "as we have seen in Gbaramatu Kingdom, is that it is the women and children that have been displaced.

"This is the reason we think the militants should accept this amnesty and save their parents, their mothers, even their grandparents the pain they are going through.
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"If you should visit this camp, you will see a very sorry sight. The activity that led to this displacement shouldn't have happened."

Asked if the committee is in touch with Government Tompolo, a key militant, Ararile said there has been no direct contact with him.

It would be recalled that President Umaru Yar'Adua had announced the offer of amnesty from August 6 to October 4, 2009 for all those directly and indirectly engaged in militant activities in the Niger Delta.

Henry Okah, the leader for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta had all charges against him dropped as part of the amnesty deal. He was released from jail last Monday.
In response, MEND declared a 60-day ceasefire on its "oil war" which has seen oil production cut by 50 percent.

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