Few days ago, Imo State Governor and Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors’ Forum, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, received over 200 militants from Ohaji/Egbema local government area of Imo State.
The militants, who claimed to be members of a dreaded gang, led by late Prince Johnson Ejima Igwedibia, popularly known as Don Wanny, also surrendered their arms and publicly denounced militancy activities, vowing never to go back to the creeks.
Don Wanny, a notorious kidnapper, mass murderer and cultist, was alleged to be responsible for the New Year massacre of Christian worshippers in Omoku, headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area of Rivers State.
He held sway in the Orashi region, covering communities in Rivers and Imo State for more than seven years until he was dislodged by the Nigerian Army in November 2017 and subsequently killed along with two of his allies in a combined operation by the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigerian Army, in Enugu, the Enugu State capital.
Don Wanny’s younger brother, Oluchi Igwedibia, popularly known as Obatosu, alleged to have led the New Year attack, was killed by security forces in Edo State, where he ran to, after the New Year massacre.
The disarmament of the militants and subsequent proclamation of amnesty on them by Okorocha, came barely two weeks after the Rivers State government raised the alarm about plot by the APC-led Federal Government to grant amnesty to 32 suspected cultists who were declared wanted by the State Executive Council.
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike had in a statewide broadcast on January 8, 2018, two days after the killing of Don Waney declared the 32 suspected cultists wanted with N20 million bounty on each of them.
Addressing the people of Omoku during a visit to the area shortly after the statewide broadcast, Wike alleged that leaders of APC in the state have approached the 32 cultists declared wanted, asking them to join their political platform ahead of the electioneering period.
The governor stated that his administration will not be deterred by the political antics of Rivers APC, saying that the deadly cultists will be traced and brought to justice.
He said, “Nobody should play politics with security of lives. Since we declared these cultists wanted, they have approached them to work with them. Whether or not they work with APC, they will meet their waterloo.”
On the fresh allegation of plotting to grant amnesty to the 32 wanted cultists, the state government, in a statement signed by the commissioner for Information and Communication, Hon. Emma Okah, said it based its allegation on intelligence report, the Federal Government is granting amnesty to the wanted cultists for the purpose of undue electoral advantage in the 2019 general elections.
The statement reads in part, “The Rivers State Government is in receipt of credible intelligence that the Federal Government has concluded plans to grant amnesty to 32 cultists declared wanted by the state security council.
“Details of the intelligence indicate that the Federal Government is granting the said cultists amnesty for the purpose of undue electoral advantage in the 2019 general elections.
“This action is not a surprise to us because we have repeatedly said it that some officials and agencies of the federal government are frustrating the fight against violent crime and criminality in Rivers State.
“In particular, we have accused the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of involvement in and aiding violent criminal activities.
“This sad development coming at a time the State is winning the war against kidnappers and cultists is a major seback and a ploy to undermine the security of Rivers State.
“Each time, we record successes in the promotion of security, the Federal Government and her agents take deliberate steps to sabotage the security of the State at the instigation of some unpatriotic Rivers sons at the centre.
“We call on the international community, civil society organisations and well-meaning Nigerians to take notice of this deliberate act to compromise the security of Rivers State for ungodly political gains by the APC-led Federal Government.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Rivers State Government will continue to work closely with security agencies to ensure the security of lives and property in the state.”
To Wike, the amnesty granted the wanted cultists by the Imo State governor, will have no impact in Rivers State, insisting that they will be brought to justice.
Declaring that the N20million placed on their heads still stands, the governor stated that the security agencies will be empowered to bring the criminals to account for their crimes.
He said the action of Okorocha is a proof of the intelligence available to the Rivers State government that the APC planned to grant amnesty to wanted cultists for political reasons.
Wike berated the APC and her officials for politicizing security to the disadvantage of the rest of the country.
He said, “Just yesterday, the Governor of Imo State granted amnesty to the cultists we declared wanted. These are cultists of the Don Wanny gang who killed 23 persons on New Year Day.
“These are cultists who have been killing security agents. That amnesty offered by Governor Okorocha cannot cover Rivers State. These criminal cultists are still wanted for their crimes against Rivers State and her people.”
Wike stated that it is wrong to introduce politics into security affairs because nobody knows what the outcome will be in future.
“There is no need playing politics with the security of lives and property. Before Governor Rochas Okorocha granted amnesty to those who killed our people, he did not deem it fit to call me.
“They should always weigh the implications of these actions to the security of the region. Whether you are in PDP or APC, there is no need to politicise security.”
He said despite the obvious political sabotage against the security infrastructure of the state, the state government will continue to work towards improved security in the state.
To Hon. Emmanuel Aguma, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Rivers State, the amnesty granted to wanted members of Don Wanny’s gang Okorocha, will not stop their arrest by security agencies.
Aguma, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in a statement issued in Port Harcourt, said security agencies have been directed to arrest the wanted cultists in any part of the country, including Imo State.
The statement reads in part, “A few days ago, His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON GSSRS, the Governor of Rivers State, had raised alarm that there is an on-going attempt by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State to procure amnesty for criminal murderers whom the Government of Rivers State in collaboration with the Security Agencies had declared wanted.
“Yesterday, Monday, February 5 2018 a group of those murderous characters led by Emenike Agamu whose criminal alias is General Red Scorpion were seen purportedly surrendering obviously some of their weapons of terror and mass murder at a ceremony in Heroes Square, Owerri, Imo State.
“His Excellency, Rochas Okorocha Governor of Imo State was on hand to receive the said. Emenike Agamu alias General Red Scorpion and his murderous gang. Governor Okorocha declared at the ceremony: ‘The state has forgiven them and will subsequently give their names to the Federal Government for Amnesty”
“It is clear from what transpired that His Excellency Governor Wike CON GSSRS was right when he-raised the alarm but only underestimated the scope and extent of the conspiracy. Legally, and that is our main concern, the general public is invited to note the following facts: .
“From the widely reported news coverage of the event, His Excellency, Governor Rochas Okorocha did not grant Amnesty to the wanted criminal gang members. He merely said that “ he will give their names to the Federal Government for Amnesty.
“Governor Okorocha, in doing so, has implicitly recognised that by the provisions of section 212 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, the Governor of Imo State has no Constitutional power to grant amnesty to any person for an offence committed in Rivers State. Governor Okorocha can only grant amnesty with regard to offences created by the House of Assembly of Imo State.
“By section 1 fb ot the constitution ot the Federal Republic or Nigeria 1999, as amended, the President can only grant amnesty with regard to offences created by an Act of the National Assembly.
“The persons declared wanted by the Government of Rivers State acting in concert with the Security Agencies are wanted in relation to offences created by the Rivers State House of Assembly such as Murder, Robbery, Rape, Kidnapping and cuitism. The offences were committed in Rivers State. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not have the constitutional right to grant amnesty for such offences.
“The persons declared wanted by the Government of Rivers State acting in concert with the Security Agencies including Emenike Agamu alias Red Scorpion remain wanted to answer for the heinous offences they committed in Rivers State and in contravention of laws created by the House of Assembly of Rivers State. The N20,000,000.00 (twenty million Naira) reward for information leading to the arrest of each of them remains in place.
“Emenike Agamu, alias General Red Scorpion and his gang are not the beneficiaries of any Amnesty be it that of I mo State or the Federal Government. Governor Okorocha in his own words merely forgave them – an act that is biblical but has no place in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.
“The security agencies are advised to disregard the whole ceremony in Owerri as a legally ineffective charade. The security agencies can arrest these criminals anywhere they are found for the purpose of their being brought to trial in Rivers State.”