More than 420 militants, kidnappers and cultists from Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun local government areas have so far embraced the amnesty programme offered by Akwa Ibom State government after they surrendered their weapons to the amnesty committee made up of heads of security agencies in the state.
The amnesty programme was the latest strategy by the state government to bring to an end three years of wanton killings and destruction of property in the area by suspected cultists. The crisis has claimed more than 200 lives with properties worth hundreds of millions of naira destroyed in communities in the two neighbouring councils.
Addressing them yesterday in Uyo, the deputy governor, Mr Moses Ekpo who applauded them for renouncing cultism stated that the state government has signed an undertaking on their behalf to protect them from harassment by security agencies and has also drawn a rehabilitation programme for them that would reform their lives.
“Government is proud that most of you have said you want to live a meaningful life. I am glad that some of you say you want to work in the security agencies and want to rise to the level of even a police commissioner. Government is happy with you and will give all of you start up skills and education to enable you realise your dreams in life,” Ekpo said.
The deputy governor was of the opinion that the crisis ridden and deserted communities would begin to experience a new lease of life as work would restart on projects abandoned by contractors in the communities due to insecurity.
State police commissioner, Mr Samuel Ogunjemilusi who commended them for their commitment to restoration of peace in their communities however urged them to surrender remaining weapons still in their custody in order not to be tempted back into crime.
Ogunjemilusi pledged the commitment of all security agencies in the state towards the success of the amnesty programme and restoration of lasting peace in the area but warned that the amnesty would only cover their past and not those after the amnesty programme.
One of the leaders of the repentant cultists, Mr Unyime Ibanga alias overcomer commended the state government and security agencies for the opportunity offered them to live normal lives again and pledged the commitment of his members to restoration of lasting peace in the area.
Ibanga who identified unfulfilled promises from government as one of the reasons for their violent lives however called on government to ensure they abide by their promise of rehabilitating them so that they would not be tempted back into the former way of life.
It was gathered that the rehabilitation process for the 264 that surrendered from Ukanafun have started while those who surrendered from Etim Ekpo would commence as soon as their documentation is completed.
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