From: Tony John, Port Harcourt
About 22,430 youths suspected to have indulged in militancy and cultism, in Rivers State, have embraced the amnesty programme packaged by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration.
This was even as Wike disbanded vigilance committees in all communities of the state.
The governor also directed security agencies to henceforth, go after cultists and kidnappers, who refused to voluntarily accept the amnesty offer.
He spoke at the Government House, Port Harcourt, during the submission of the report of the state amnesty programme.
The committee had its membership drawn from the Army, the Navy, the Police and the Department of State Service (DSS).
He described the programme as ‘very sucessful’, noting that the fact that 22, 430 cultists accepted amnesty and surrendered 911 assorted arms with 7,661 ammunition and 147 explosives has made the state relatively peaceful.
“Initially, people felt it was a political game. I thank God that we have proved our critics wrong that we are serious to ensure the security of lives and property.
“We cannot say 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.
“For those we have given the opportunity, but 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 state,” he said.
The governor explained that the state government resolved not to monetise the amnesty programme because it wanted the cultists and kidnappers to sincerely embrace it.
Presenting the report, the chairman, Sir Kenneth Chinda, said the committee was successful because it adopted 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 submission of report witnessed by all the service commanders in the state.