Rivers State Government on Tuesday concluded the first phase of the
State Amnesty Programe, with Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike disbanding all
vigilante committees in all communities of the state.
The governor also directed security agencies to henceforth go after all
cultists and kidnappers who refused to voluntarily accept the amnesty
offer of the state government, pointing out that his administration has
zero tolerance to crime and criminality.
The governor spoke at the Government House, Port
Harcourt during the submission of the report of the Rivers State Amnesty
Programme. The State Amnesty Committee had its membership drawn from
the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy , the Nigerian Police and the
Department of State Services.
The governor described the State Amnesty Programme as ‘very sucessful’,
noting that the fact that 22, 430 cultists accepted amnesty and
surrendered 911 assorted arms with 7661 assorted ammunitions and 147
explosives has made the state relatively peaceful.
“But to show that Government is serious, I hereby disband all vigilante
committees in the various communities. I direct the security agencies to
make sure that we don’t have such committees except they profile their
members to prove that they don’t belong to any cult groups. Initially ,
people felt it was a political game . I thank God almighty that we have
proved our critics wrong that we are serious to ensure the security of
lives and property in the state. We cannot say that we can totally
eliminate crime, but that you and I can sleep very well today, unlike in
the past when cultists and kidnappers had a field day.”
Speaking further, the governor said:
“For those we have given the opportunity, but they refused to embrace
amnesty, I direct the security agencies to go after them. The time for
amnesty is over and we are going to take the war to them. Since we have
given you the opportunity and you have refused to surrender, you have
become enemies of the state and the state will fight to the last to make
sure that criminality is reduced to the barest minimum, so that
investors will continue to have confidence to invest their funds in this
“To tell politicians that you must not politicize crime. If anybody is
involved in crime, we must not reduce it to party politics. When
somebody is a cultist, don’t say that that person belongs to party A,
that is not fair. We have to fight crime. We have to join hands to bring
lasting peace to this state.”
The governor explained that the state government resolved not to
monetise the amnesty programme because it wanted the cultists and
kidnappers to sincerely embrace the programme. He assured all the
repentant cultists and kidnappers that they will be duly rehabilitated
and made to become useful to the society.
“We did not exchange money for the return of arms. It was voluntary. We
said, return your arms and denounce any cult group you belong to and we
will give you amnesty. All those who have not gone back to crime, be
rest assured that nobody will arrest you. But if by tomorrow, you return
to crime, know that amnesty does not cover you. I urge the Federal
Government to give us the support we require for peace to reign in this
state. Rivers State is the Treasure Base of this nation. If there is
crisis in Rivers State, it will affect Nigeria and so for us as a
government, we will continue to partner with Federal Government to
achieve zero tolerance to crime. We will not support crime. It doesn’t
matter the political divide. If you are involved, you will face the
Presenting the report of the State Amnesty Programme Committee, Sir
Kenneth Chinda said the committee was successful because it adsopted a
direct dialogue approach by establishing direct, honest, transparent and
sincere contacts with leaderships of the various groups through a
discreet confidence building process.
The committee called on the State Government to disband all armed
community vigilance groups and also direct all communities to surrender
their weapons to the relevant security agencies.
He informed the governor that a total of 22, 430 cultists and militants
renounced cultism and embraced the amnesty offer, while they surrendered
911 arms, 7661 assorted ammunition and 147 explosives.
The submission of report by the Rivers State Amnesty Committee was witnessed by all the Service Commanders in Rivers State.
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