Bakassi ex-agitators may return to creeks over rehabilitation delay
Agitations and insurgency may resume in Cross River State, as the amnesty promised the former Bakassi Strike Force (BSF) members by government is yet to take off.The ex-agitators had surrendered their arms on December 17 last year in expectation of an amnesty programme promised them.
Sources told The Guardian that the BSF might go back to the creeks, as the state and federal governments had failed to meet their own part of the bargain when they surrendered their arms.
Part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is that the boys will be properly resettled, trained in a camp with allowances, employed, and some issues of Bakassi looked into. But almost six months after the disarmament at the old Ikang Secretariat in Bakassi Council, nothing has reportedly come in from government, except identity cards.
One of them said: “We are suffering. There is no re-orientation, no specific camp where we are kept, no allowance, no hope, even as we have kept our own part of the bargain. We learnt the Akwa Ibom State government released about N200 million to support the amnesty programme.”
“It is like we were tricked out of the creeks,” bemoaned another who pleaded anonymity.“Some of the boys are still in detention in the hands of security agents. The guns worth billions of naira that we handed over were our means of livelihood.
“But we have respect for government and our lives, so we handed over to earn a decent living and for peace to reign, as we expected the state and federal governments to give us a better means of livelihood.“When we were in the creeks, we were fighting the gendarmes, government forces and other nefarious forces. But now, the place is porous.”
The Guardian further gathered that the Gulf of Guinea that had been calm for a while is witnessing violence from faceless groups and there is no serious security presence, especially at odd hours.Commenting on the delay of the amnesty programme, the Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, told The Guardian, “The government is planning to empower them and they are going through counselling and getting rehabilitated. It is a long-term process. So far, the people that I know that were involved in the Bakassi force are living clean.”
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