THE Presidential Amnesty Programme has said it will soon begin to disarm youths in the Arepo area of Lagos state, as well as others who returned from Bakassi and some others in Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states.
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, and Co-ordinator of the Amnesty Office, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh, made this disclosure in Abuja yesterday while having an interactive session with journalists.
He informed that about 1,500 youths would be disarmed from Arepo in Lagos state while those to be disarmed in the Niger Delta states run into thousands. Recall that Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani had recently disclosed that about 7,000 youths would be disarmed in the region.
General Boroh however, clarified that the new set of persons to be disarmed “are not under the amnesty programme”. He noted that the PAP has only 30,000 persons enrolled in its care. “I’m writing a letter to the authorities to allow for disarmament in Arepo, Bakassi, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Cross River states. It is good that we have people who want to disarm”, he said, adding that though the persons to be disarmed are not under the amnesty programme, persons who have come up to disarm should be encouraged to do so because having weapons in the hands of so many persons is very dangerous.
Having been part of the United Nations Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme in Liberia and Sierra Leone, Boroh said it is better to take arms out of the hands of people. “Liberia and Sierra Leone cannot be the same again. I saw things that are difficult for me to say. I don’t want same things to happen in my country”, he said.
Speaking on the need to wind down the amnesty programme, Boroh said the Office is currently working on the last phase of the programme, the reintegration process, which he said is being done meticulously in order to avoid a relapse. He explained that the process, which should normally include rehabilitation, reconstruction, rebuilding and reinsertion, is an expensive United Nations programme, which only Nigeria has been able to do. “It is an expensive programme. It is only the UN that has done it, then Nigeria. Between 2009 and March 2010, it cost the UN $500 million to do DDR in Sierra Leone”, he said.
According to him, the programme involves the use of psychologists and psychiatrists to rehabilitate people.
As part of the exit strategy developed for the beneficiaries of the amnesty programme, Boroh said he is collaborating with the Nigeria Air Force, to get some beneficiaries trained here in Nigeria in order to cut the cost on overseas training. Also, the amnesty programme is collaborating with some companies in the automobile sector to train and employ beneficiaries.
So far, the amnesty office has trained 17,000 of the 30,000 beneficiaries.