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Published On: Mon, Jul 27th, 2020

Reps ask Buhari to appoint Amnesty Coordinator

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By Christiana Ekpa

The House Representatives yesterday asked the National Security Adviser to the President, and the Chief of Defence Staff , as a matter of urgent national security concern, advise the President to appoint a Coordinator for the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the Niger Delta region.
They equally disclosed that this should be with “a clear mandate to optimally actualize the objective of the programme, thus bringing it to a successful conclusion like other disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in other parts of the world.”
The resolutions stemmed from adoption of the prayers of a motion of urgent national importance sponsored by Rep. Preye Influence Oseke with the title: “The urgent need to appoint a substantive coordinator for the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the Niger Delta Region.”
The lawmaker while moving the motion noted that Nigeria demonstrated an unwavering commitment to evolving a holistic solution to the problems of the Niger Delta with a view to securing the region for growth and development, while also effectively tackling the criminal dimension to the problem;
“Also notes that the main objective of the Presidential Amnesty Programme was to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate armed militants back into communities with benefits such as opportunities in education as well as financial stipends to those who gave up their weapons;
“ Worried that the Presidential Amnesty Programme has not been able to achieve its ultimate objective of reintegrating all ex-agitators as originally envisioned;
“Further notes that the absence of a substantive Coordinator for the Programme is creating a vacuum that makes it difficult for the programme to be managed meaningfully, transparently and brought to a logical end;
“ Concerned that since Friday 28th February 2020. the erstwhile Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Professor Charles Quaker Dokubo was suspended from office by the President:
“Aware that the suspension of the said Coordinator was on the heels of numerous allegations and petitions surrounding the Presidential Amnesty Programme which prompted the National Security Adviser (NSA) to set up a Technical Committee to look into the activities of the programme;
“ Cognizant that the Presidential Amnesty Programme‘s inability to meet its mandate has culminated in several civil disorders including the blocking of the East-West Road by ex-agitators at different times.”
The lawmaker expressed concern that a technical committee was mandated to oversee the programme. a development that has, in no little way, slowed down activities of the programme;
He said though introduction of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes have become common practice in countries emerging from violent conflict, “the most difficult aspect is the successful and long-term reintegration of former combatants into civil life.”
He further said: “Aware also that the prevailing peace in the Niger Delta region is directly proportional to the quantum of crude oil
production in the country;

“ Informed that ongoing research projects by international development
agencies have identified that amnesty initiatives fail and fall apart
when neither accompanied by meaningful and durable reintegration nor
deep-seated socio-economic problems that are tackled simultaneously;

“Further informed that pan of recommendations of a recent publication
of the Niger Delta Dialogue Secretariat, a European Union-funded
research project, the insecurity in the Niger Delta region is caused
by militancy, cultism, sea piracy. communal disputes, kidnapping for
ransom and electoral violence.

These, he said are vices “ that could be checked by meaningfully
engaging youths of the area, with a specific call on the Presidential
Amnesty Programme to live up to its mandate of conclusive
reintegration of ex-agitators.”

He expressed worries that swiftly following the suspension of the
former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission, Ibrahim Magu, was the appointment of a successor Acting
Chairman, Mohammed Umar; while the experience of the President Amnesty
Programme for the Niger Delta region. both under similar circumstances
was treated differently.”

Oseke expressed regret that ongoing programmes of the Presidential
Amnesty Programme have, as attested to by critical stakeholders,
suffered huge setback as a consequence of the absence of an Acting
Coordinator, and as such negatively impacted on the security situation
in the Niger Delta region in no little way:

“Very worried that youths of the region are gradually resorting to
unlawful means of agitation for the development of the region
including militancy, a development that is capable of undermining the
peace, security, order and good governance thus jeopardising
already-gained mileage in institutionalizing an unencumbered economy
of the nation:

“Concerned that should there be a fresh outbreak of heightened
insecurity in the Niger Delta region, the security apparatus of our
country will be avoidably stretched beyond measure.”

When the Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbalabiamila called for a
voice vote, the motion passed without dissent.

The House thereafter urged its Committee on National Security to
interface with relevant agencies of government in ensuring that a
substantive Coordinator for the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the
Niger Delta region is urgently appointed in order to douse the
already-growing tension in the region.

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