This Day (Lagos)

1 March 2013

Nigeria: Ex-Militants - Why We Rescued Kidnapped Foreigners

Former leaders of militant camps in the Niger Delta have said they decided to be involved in the rescue of six foreigners who were kidnapped in Bayelsa State last week because of the negative impact the crime was having on the people of the area.

The ex-militants, under the aegis of Leadership Forum for Peace in the Niger Delta, also noted that the Federal Government had shown enough commitment to develop the region and was implementing the amnesty programme successfully, adding that there was no justification for the kidnap of innocent people who were in the country to work towards its development.

This came as the former militants called on the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, to expose those he termed traitors within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum.

President of the Leadership Forum for Peace in the Niger Delta, Reuben Wilson, who addressed journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, also warned youths in the region against further involvement in the kidnap of persons or other forms of social vices.

He said the former leaders of the militants took the pains to locate the six foreigners who were kidnapped in Bayelsa State and secured their freedom at no cost because the incident did not paint the region in good light.

Three of those abducted were from Ukraine, two from India and one from Russia.

Wilson said after successfully securing the release of the expatriates from a riverine community in Bayelsa State, they handed them over to their employers.

He said: "We took the pains to go into the creeks that we left some years back to look for and rescue all the abducted foreign workers because for us, it was shameful and degrading that some disgruntled elements are still thinking of kidnapping people in times like this when the amnesty programme has been on course.

"Our message to those elements is that they must stop the rubbish. There is nothing to gain in engaging in this kind of venture. The government of President Goodluck Jonathan at the Federal Government and that of Seriake Dickson in Bayelsa State are doing so much to address the empowerment challenges of our youths.

"Rather than engage in activities that will drag the name of the region in the mud, we should all join hands in supporting the development initiatives of the government. Kidnapping does not pay. This was what we saw and decided to accept the amnesty and drop our arms."

Meanwhile the repentant militants hailed the election of Akpabio as chairman of the PDP governors' forum but called on him to hasten the process of exposing and dealing with those identified as traitors within their fold.

He said Akpabio "has been an example on how to govern a state," adding that he would be a positive influence on his colleagues.

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