Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Police Command has described the amnesty exercise supposedly granted scores of self-confessed cultists in Tai Local government area recently as mere window dressing and unacceptable.
The spokesman of the Command, Nnamdi Omoni, who noted this while reacting to the alleged refusal by the cultists to surrender their sophisticated weapons said the cultists are not yet ready to cooperate with the local government authorities and agents of government.
Omoni said the claim of denouncement of criminal activities by the self-confessed cultists without their surrendering their arms and ammunition was make-belief .
He confirmed that negotiations are still ongoing with the cultists and a carrot and stick approach will be adopted, but if they failed to utilize the amnesty window offered to them, the full weight of the law would be applied.
Recall that on the 26 of June 2020, some youths claimed to have denounced cultism in Tai Local Government Area, in Ogoniland and submitted operational weapons.
The youths took advantage of the amnesty programme initiated by the Tai Local Government Chairman in Ogoniland Dr. Jacobson Barineka Nbina.
There were reports that the council boss released the sum of 7.3 million naira to the those who submitted weapons and charms they use in their operations.
However, Beatrice Akeenam, a youth leader from the local government expressed reservations over the nature of weapons submitted. She alleged the youths were not being sincere with the number of arms in their possession, insisting that the number of cultists related attacks and deaths does not tally with those presented at the ceremony.
Akeenam said: “This Tai amnesty is worrisome. How on earth will they tell us that this is what they have been using to kill those our ‘handsome guy men.’ I doubt if this is truly amnesty”.
Meanwhile,in a swift reaction to the disclaim by the Rivers Police Command, Chairman of Tai LGA, Dr Jacobson Nbina clarified that Tai Local Government Council do not offer amnesty to suspected cultists.
Contrary to the claim of the Police, he said the LGA only asked cultists to renounce cultism, in a statement signed on his behalf by his Media Aide, Dumbari Hope.
He said:“Ordinarily, I should have ignored the comment by the Police Spokesman in Rivers State, Nnamdi Omoni that I offered amnesty to suspected cultists in Tai. But for the purpose of informing the general public, I wish to state that Tai LGA did not offer any amnesty to suspected cultists but, merely asked them to submit their arms, charms and other weapons and embrace peace”.
He explained “That the initiative was an outcome of the decision reached at a security meeting at Saakpenwa on the 20th June, 2020, and attended by Security agencies, Political Leaders, Traditional rulers and the CDC.
“It’s also pertinent to put it on record that the Tai local government Council does not have the power to give amnesty, that’s an exclusive right of the Rivers State Security Council. However, I wish to state categorically that the offer for suspected cultists to submit their arms was a huge success owing to the number of arms and other things submitted.
“I also wish to put on record that the initiative was a huge success as criminality and rascality has drastically reduced since the inception of the programme.
“We wish to ask the stakeholders in Tai who irrespective of party affiliations, joined our drive to restore total peace to Tai and maintain our status as the most most peaceful Local Government Area in Rivers State.”