Militants, cult groups welcome Akwa Ibom amnesty programme

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Etim Ekpimah, Uyo

No fewer than 420 militants, kidnappers and cultists from Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun local government areas of Akwa Ibom State have grasped the amnesty programme from the state government for surrendering their arms.

Southern City News learnt that the amnesty programme was the latest strategy by the state government to bring to an end the three-year long wanton killings and destruction of property in the area by suspected cultist groups.

More than 200 people have lost their lives with property worth millions of naira during the hostilities in the two council areas of the state.

The state Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo, who addressed the repentant militants in Uyo on Tuesday, said the government has signed an undertaking to protect the former militants, rapists, and kidnappers from harassment by security agencies.

He added that government was also drawing rehabilitation programme to reform the repentant militants.

“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 to realise your dreams in life,” he said.

According to Ekpo, the crisis-ridden and deserted communities would begin to experience a new life as work would begin on projects that had been abandoned by contractors in those communities caused by insecurity.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Samuel Ogunjemilusi, who commended them for their commitment to restoration of peace in their communities, urged them to surrender remaining weapons still in their custody.

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 areas, warning 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), praised 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, called on government to ensure they abide by their promise of rehabilitating them so that they would not be tempted to back into the former way of life.

The rehabilitation programme for the 264 former cult members that surrendered from Ukanafun has started while those who surrendered from Etim Ekpo would start as soon as their documentation is completed.

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