by Isi Esene
The number of Niger Delta Amnesty beneficiaries is set to swell to 30,000 with the admittance of 3,642 more ex-agitators to the 26,368 who were part of the first and second phases of the programme initiated by former president, Umar Musa Yar’Adua.
This new development was revealed by the secial adviser to president on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, yesterday in Ondo State while addressing members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at a rally for the party’s candidate for the October 20 governorship poll in the state, Olusola Oke.
According to reports, he said the expansion was necessary due to agitations from groups who were not considered in the initial phases of the FG Amnesty programme.
“There is agitation going on in the Niger Delta and I have always being at the fore front of the clamour that the amnesty programme has to close, the boys are unrelenting and the security agencies have collected their arms.
“The only option opened to us is to return their arms. So if we are not going to return their arms, they should be included in the programme one way or the other.
“My office and that of the National Security Adviser have met and forwarded a memo to the President to consider the final inclusion of 3,642 persons to the current 26,368 to make it 30,000.”
Kuku revealed an expansion in the scope of the Amnesty programmed disclosing the addition of ex-agitators who did not resort to the use of arms during the Niger Delta insurgence.
“The militants were assisted by informants and other helpers; so the armed ones will not do anything without those helping them. We are talking of a process that even when we have dealt with these categories of people we still have problem, hence the extension.
“We have to include law-abiding citizens of these communities in the programme. Unless we do this, we will be telling the communities that they can only be empowered if they carry arms.
“In order to cancel that message which has been backfiring in this programme, it is important to include these people who are close to some forms of restiveness in their communities.”