By Tayo Ikujuni
Despite the threats from militants in the Niger Delta, a coalition of radical groups in Ondo State has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the alleged favoritism in the allocation of amnesty slots in the state.
The coalition, in a statement by its leader, General Deji Ehinmowo, in Lagos on Sunday alleged that politicians have hijacked the amnesty programme in the state.
Members of the coalition include the United Sea-wolf Avengers, the Awaja camp, Black Bush camp, Polugbene camp, Sehinde camp, Eti eremi-ofara camp, Kofawe camp, Nigboroko camp, Mafia camp, Beware of Trouble camp and Mafia Lotto camp.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Ondo State Government and the Presidential Amnesty Committee, had on Nov. 9, 2017, enrolled some ex-militants in the state who submitted their arms.
The state government gave the former militants 21-day grace period to submit their arms to the state Amnesty Committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi.
Members of the coalition protested at the premises of OSOPADEC on Jan. 25 in Akure over non-enrolment of its members in the Amnesty programme.
“We, the above-named coalition of generals in just concluded Federal Government Amnesty Programme in Ondo State wish to let the whole world and Amnesty International know that amnesty slots are being shared among politicians in the state.
“The military was supposed to determine those to be enrolled, not politicians who allocated the slots to their cronies.
“We don’t believe in Ondo State Amnesty Committee again having lost confidence in the committee.
“Having fulfilled our own part of agreement, the amnesty committee in the state used slots meant for us to empower their family members, cronies, political ward chairmen, ward women leaders, associates and girlfriends,’’ the coalition said.
It appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to wade into the crisis in the state amnesty committee on the sharing of amnesty slots.
“All we want is to be incorporated because we have already submitted our arms.
“We want President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the indiscriminate sharing of slots by the Ondo State Amnesty Committee among their family members, political allies and friends.”
The militants expressed belief in the pledge made by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu during the Nov. 9 flag-off of the amnesty programme that the programme was to sustain the development of the living conditions of the riverine people.
The coalition said it had exercised patience for more than 15 years in the oil producing community in the state to ensure lasting peace in the country.
“All the generals, affected camps and individuals that submitted their arms and ammunition agreed that our constituency, Ondo State, and Nigeria at large, can hardly afford any major crisis in the Niger-Delta region at this period.
“The government is not convinced of the justness of the cause for the emancipation of the people of Ilaje and Ese-Odo federal constituency who have suffered neglect for a long time.
“The government didn’t share the anxiety of the people who perceived the plundering of our lands and waters as akin to genocide.
“The government has forgotten that real development is impossible in a chaotic environment. Are we to be punished for embracing peace.”
The coalition said that individuals who could not handle ordinary cutlass had suddenly become militants through the amnesty window slots.
“They deceived us into laying down our arms and ammunition with the assurance to be incorporated into the programme, but this remained unfulfilled.
“One of the conditions for surrendering our arms and ammunition was the assurance given to us by the governor during the flag-off to be incorporated into the Federal Government Amnesty programme.
“A lot of arms and ammunition such as Fiat Revelli Model gun, Colt Automatic rifle, Sango Scorpion, Dynamite Bitter explosives device, bomb, grenadge, several AK47 rifles with serial number, military camp uniforms, some automatic cartridge, double barrel rifle, as well as English and locally made single barrel rifle were submitted.
“We have also asked all the oil companies operating in the coastal communities in the state to vacate over the failure of the government to meet our demand in the amnesty programme.”