1 February 2013

Nigeria: Niger Delta Militant Group Surrenders Weapons, Seeks Amnesty

A repentant militant group in the Niger Delta on Friday, gave up its struggle and submitted assorted weapons to the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Pulo Shield, in Yenagoa.

The group, led by its "Commander", Inaemi David, 31, was reputed to have carried out numerous attacks on oil pipelines in the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa.

David, who led members of his group to the JTF Headquarters in Yenagoa on Friday, said they decided to surrender their weapons because of their resolve to embrace peace and live normal lives.

"We realised there is no peace in our lives; we felt tired of living a life of militancy, so we approached the JTF and informed them of our resolve to surrender our arms and munitions.

"After due consultations, we were convinced that if we take this positive step to surrender our weapons, it will bring the dawn of a new life for us," David said.

The repentant militant leader, who claimed to lead an 'army' of over 50 foot soldiers, stated that frustration and deprivation in the region had led many youths into armed struggle.

"We went into militancy not to kill but to show our frustration to the government.

"We want the government to know that the Niger Delta people have a right to the possession of our resources," he said.

David disclosed that the group's camp was located in the creeks of Odioma Community of Brass Local Government Area of the state.

He said that the only panacea to lasting peace in the region was for the Federal Government to create employment opportunities for youths.

He revealed that many other splinter groups of militants were still holding on to their weapons in the creeks.

David said his group had taken the step to surrender because of their resolve to embrace the Federal Government's amnesty programme.

"It is our belief that with our resolve to join the peace process, the Federal Government will on its own reciprocate by integrating our group in the third phase of the amnesty programme," David said.

The Commander of the JTF, Maj.-Gen. Bata Debiro, praised the group for the initiative to surrender their weapons and embrace peace.

"Your action will go a long way in encouraging other armed groups still involved in militancy in the region to come forward and embrace the prevailing peace in the Niger Delta.

"It is only in an atmosphere of peace that development can thrive," Debiro said.

The commander assured the group that the JTF would document their names and weapons submitted and forward them to the Federal Amnesty Office, the only commission saddled with that responsibility.

He called on all armed groups still operating in the creeks of the Niger Delta to take a decision and surrender their weapons to the authorities.

He said this was the only way for peace to reign in the region.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some of the weapons surrendered by the group include, six wraps of dynamite and one AK 47 assault rifle.

Others include three locally-made pistols; one automatic revolver and twelve locally-made single barrel rifles.

Also submitted are two fully-loaded magazines; dozens of 7.62 mm ammunitions and three improvised rocket launchers.

The rest are six wraps of gun powder; 25 live cartridges; a pot of fetish concoction and a live tortoise.

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