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*Press Release: The Amnesty Office Is Not A Security Outfit
Following the growing penchant for some persons to pick on the Presidential Amnesty Programme over occasional security breaches in the Niger Delta, the Amnesty Office wishes to reiterate once again that the Amnesty Office is not a security agency and that the mandate of the Presidential Amnesty Programme does not include curbing crime or enforcing laws in the Niger Delta.
Yes, it is true that the Presidential Amnesty Programme has aided the stabilization of security conditions in the Niger Delta by successfully overseeing the disarmament, demobilization and currently reintegrating the entire 26,358 Niger Delta ex-agitators who accepted the offer of amnesty and enlisted in the Amnesty Programme in two phases; however the Amnesty Office has neither the powers, competences or wherewithal to stop any person who willfully decides to commit crime in the Niger Delta. The Amnesty Office neither has guns nor ammunitions; thus cannot physically combat willful crime or criminality in the Niger Delta. The very critical role of enforcing extant laws that deal will crime in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country is constitutionally vested on the Nigeria Police, the State Security Services and of course the Armed Forces as currently represented in the states in the Niger Delta by the Joint Military Task Force (which now goes by the name Operation Pulo Shield).
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and the Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku once again affirms his confidence in the ability of the gallant officers and men of the JTF to protect vital oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta and also to deal decisively with person or persons who for any reason or reasons attempts to attack oil facilities or generally attempt to breach the peace in the zone.
For emphasis, it must be clarified for the umpteenth time that pursuant to its mandate, the Amnesty Office, aided by gallant officers and Men of our Armed forces pursued a very successful disarmament campaign and huge cache of arms and ammunitions were submitted by the ex-agitators prior to their being admitted into the post-amnesty Programme. Disarmament was concluded in December 2009 but the arms and ammunitions collected were stored at the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu and in compliance with extant DDR codes as spelt out by the United Nations, these arms and Ammunitions were on May 25 2011 completely destroyed by the Nigerian Army in Lokpanta, a boundary town in Enugu State, under the watch of the Amnesty Office. With the destruction of the arms and ammunitions, the Presidential Amnesty Programme exited its Disarmament component. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Seal of The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the official symbol of the Nigerian President, first used in 1979 by President Shehu Shagari.
Similarly, the Amnesty Office has successfully pursued and completed the Demobilisation of the entire 26,358 Niger Delta ex-agitators enrolled in the two phases of the Programme. The Demobilisation exercise which was carried out in two camps: Obubra in Cross River State and Akodo in Lagos State entailed biometric documentation, wellness check, nonviolence transformational training, series of counseling and career classification for the ex-agitators. In December 2011, the Amnesty Office completed and exited the Demobilisation component of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
With the completion of the full demobilisation of the 26,358 ex-combatants enrolled in the first and second phases of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, our great nation entered history books as one of the few countries in the world that achieved a successful closure to the Disarmament and Demobilisation phases of its DDR Programme. True, virtually all the 24 United Nations-piloted DDR interventions in Africa since 1992 are still battling to achieve full Demobilisation even with huge financial and technical assistance from the United Nations and several other international partners. Some of the nations still battling to exit the Demobilisation phase of their DDR Programmes include Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Given the successes of the DDR Programmes in Nigeria and Burundi, there is currently a global push to transfer all such programmes from the United Nations and other international agencies to national governments just like is currently the case in Nigeria.
Perhaps the most critical other component of the Amnesty Programme is the Reintegration of the ex-agitators. That is exactly where we are today. Following the completion of their non-violence training and career classification in camp, the Amnesty Office has successfully placed a total of 10,395 former Niger Delta agitators in skills acquisition/training centres as well as in formal education within the country and offshore. Similarly, about 12,067 transformed ex-combatants are currently being processed preparatory to their deployment to reintegration centres to pursue either formal education or vocational training in the 2012 fiscal year. Several of these trainees have graduated and a number of them have secured gainful employment. The Amnesty Office is also collaborating with key governmental institutions to aid the self-employment of many of the graduates.
Hon. Kuku also seeks to stress once again that the fact that several former agitators in the Niger Delta accepted the offer of Amnesty does not in any way mean that the region no longer has aggrieved persons. But he insists that all aggrieved persons any where in Nigeria should seek and embrace nonviolent and peaceful ways to express themselves, especially given that the Federal Government under His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan GCFR, has clearly shown that it has the capacity to listen and act in the greater good of the citizenry.
Flowing from the above, it is abundantly clear that the Amnesty Office has been discharging to the best of its abilities, the responsibilities and mandate assigned to it and as enshrined in the Amnesty Proclamation. Indeed if the Amnesty Office was charged with security duties, perhaps we would have pursued it doggedly and surely profound results would have been achieved by now.
Beyond the fact that Amnesty Office is not charged security duties, it must be made clear that aspects of the Amnesty Proclamation that deals with the development of critical infrastructures in the Niger Delta is domiciled in the Ministry of the Niger Delta while the Petroleum equity component is domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Petroleum. For example, the Amnesty Office is aware that a number of the ex-agitators have secured pipeline protection and surveillance jobs from the Ministry of Petroleum. Details of this can only be sourced from the Ministry of Petroleum since Amnesty office is not involved at all.
As the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku is on a daily basis in touch with leaders and stakeholders in the Niger Delta. These leaders and stakeholders are clearly of the view that the Amnesty Programme is making the desired impact in the zone. Indeed they are also of the view that the humble efforts of the Amnesty Office have helped to save the economy of our dear country from imminent collapse. Like most discerning Nigerians are now aware, the key objective of the Presidential Amnesty Programme is to stabilise, consolidate and sustain security conditions in the Niger Delta as pre-requisite for promoting economic development in the zone, which we all know is the nation’s oil and gas base. I make bold to assert that the target of restoring peace, safety and security in the Niger Delta using the instrumentalities of the Amnesty Programme, has been reasonably met; and as a result, the nation’s economy has rebounded. From a production level of a paltry 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day as at first week of January 2009, the relative peace that now prevails in the Niger Delta has aided the remarkable growth of Nigeria’s oil production to between 2.6 million barrels per day as at today.
To further underscore the fact that the proclamation of amnesty for former agitators in the Niger Delta as well as the successful management of the post-amnesty Programme saved the economy of our great nation from a looming collapse, kindly note that with Nigeria producing as at today 2.6 million barrels of crude oil per day as against the abysmally low 700,000 barrels per day at the peak of the Niger Delta crisis in January 2009, the Amnesty Programme is currently making production savings of 1.9 million barrels per day for our beloved country. If these savings are computed with prevailing exchange rate of N160 to $1, daily production savings for Nigeria and its Joint Venture (JV) partners currently stands at N33.4 Billion per day. If this sum is broken down further especially given that oil production in Nigeria hovered between 2.4 and 2.6 barrels for all of 2011, it would be discovered that savings for Nigeria and its JV partners for year ending 2011 is estimated to be a whopping N6 trillion!
Head, Media and Communication
Presidential Amnesty Office
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