Ayade seeks amnesty for militants in Cross River
Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has pleaded with the Federal Government to grant amnesty to Bakassi militants.Ayade spoke on Monday at the commissioning of the Nigerian Security Element Project 2 (NICEP), a special monitoring system to check crude oil theft, illegal transfer at sea, poaching, piracy and sea robbery at the Eastern Naval Command in Calabar.
He said: “Today, the militants are ready for peace and have returned arms seized from the military in some encounters. With the intervention of some well-meaning Nigerians and international friends, who we shall not name for now, we have again offered to lay down our arms, embrace peace and work with government to ensure Bakassi people and their problems bordering on refugee, slavery, rape, foreign exploitation, lack of means of livelihood and total abandonment by government can be addressed.
“We are doing this as a mark of faith and demonstration of seriousness on November 8, 2016 by 16.30 hours; we returned all the weapons our fighters captured during the last confrontation with the Nigerian Army at the agreed drop-off zone. We call on the whole world and United Nations (UN) to note this unilateral declaration of ceasefire and return of captured weapons while we remain vigilant and wait for a response from the Nigerian government.”
“We have already witnessed the successes from the actions you have taken so far. But those brothers and sisters of ours that have been practicing this militancy will have to find an alternative means of livelihood because Falcon Eye will pick them. And because that is real, anthropologically, it is the responsibility of the government, which is a bigger partner in the security structure to ensure that we provide an alternative in the first instance.
“I, therefore, plead that there should be haste to ensure that Cross River State is integrated into the amnesty programme. It is critical for us because I believe that it is when people are pushed to the wall that criminality becomes an alternative livelihood.
“Therefore, if government provides a platform for most of these people to have an alternative, I am sure they will turn away from criminality. It is, therefore, a passionate appeal from the people of Cross River State that the amnesty programme had not in actual sense captured Cross River State.
“If you study it very well, a lot of the criminality that has occurred in the state is not orchestrated by Cross Riverians but people who have migrated from areas where they have superior military power and have moved into Bakassi and have made it unbearable. Therefore, an amnesty programme that will enhance all of these people will help us create even a safer environment for us to work.”