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N’Delta: Aftermath of Disarmament

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On the 4th of October, 2009, the period set for the amnesty process will come to a close. A review of the process so far will reveal some modest success but there are a lot of challenges. First and foremost, It is clear that the amnesty process has been politicised. As Jide Ojo has argued.

Perhaps, the greatest threat to the amnesty deal is the frosty relationship and muscle flexing between two Timis. The administration of Timipre Sylva, Governor of Bayelsa State has accused the Honourary Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Matters, Mr. Ndutimi Alaibe of undermining his authority. The Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government had in a reaction to the disarmament that took place at Azuzuma, Bayelsa State accused Alaibe of introducing politics into the amnesty exercise. The SSG also said the protest in Yenagoa is politically motivated to erode the gains recorded by his governor in the amnesty programme. It is an open secret that Timi Alaibe has his eyes fixed on the governorship of Bayelsa State and would want to make capital political gain of his present position. However, the issue at hand needs to be dispassionately tackled so that the amnesty deal does not get scuttled. There is need for the two Timis to sheath their swords and work together in the larger interest of Nigeria and their Niger Delta region.

It would be recalled that on September 6, 2009, thirty-year-old South Wing Commander of the MEND, Mr. Kile Selky Torughedi, a.k.a ‘Young Shall Grow’ submitted a large cache of weapons to Timi Alaibe. They included assorted guns and rifles, grenade launcher chargers, grenades, dynamites, bombs and gun boats. He claimed he had 350 fighters and that he speaks French and has soldiers from Liberia and Gabon. In a footage of his village shown on one of the Africa Independent Television (AIT) on September 17, I saw a Nursery school founded and funded by Kile as well as old women he engages on environmental sanitation on N10,000 monthly salaries each. Talk of failure of governance!

Secondly, there has not been professional execution of the process. The laid down process of disarmament and demobilisation was not followed in all cases leading to demonstration by militants in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State on 4th, 7th and 25th September, 2009. The militants complained of being accommodated in dilapidated buildings in rehabilitation centres and non-payment of their allowances.

Thirdly, the root causes of the crisis in the Niger Delta have not been tackled. Peace requires justice. For the amnesty process to succeed, the injustice done to the Niger Delta people over the years must be redressed. Peace. without justice is peace of the graveyard and is not sustainable.

Furthermore, the level of participation of international and local observers, communities and stakeholders in the process is low. Peace process requires robust participation of stakeholders to increase confidence. In particular, the participation of women in peace building is key because women’s participation not only put new items on the agenda but also because women are perceived to be more empathetic which enhances their reconciliatory and political work as negotiators and possibility of fostering confidence and trust.

As has been alluded to above, disarmament and demobilisation without an effective reintegration programme will only produce “temporary peace” of the graveyard. A successful amnesty process or DDR should create the basis to right the wrongs of the past and help to create a just and equitable society. By the time that the amnesty period expired on 4th October, 2009, it was unlikely that majority of the militants had handed in their arms and ammunitions.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had requested for extension of the deadline. At the expiration of the moratorium period, the Federal Government is expected to resist the temptation of launching a new military action against militants who may not have surrendered. That will only escalate the crisis and create a new wave of militancy. As General Luke Aprezi, a former Commander in ECOMOG and Force Commander for the African Union Force (now UN Force) has counselled,I can tell you point blank that the war is not winnable by the Nigerian Army. Military can never solve the problem in the Niger Delta. Because Sri Lanka fought the Tamil Tigers for 26 years and now they seem to have defeated the Tamil Tigers, but then, you win the war, have you won the peace? It is what will come out of winning the peace that will determine whether there would be further uprising or not.

I can categorically tell you that Nigerian army cannot win the war in Niger Delta. From my experience all over the world, at best military will carry out a holding action till a political solution is found.

Secondly, every effort must be made to avoid the politicisation of the re-integration phase of the amnesty process which will determine whether or not there will be reversion to violence.

Furthermore, the capacity of the relevant officials must be built to proper handle the reintegration process. The errors that led to the demonstration of militants in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State must be avoided.

Another important point is that states and local government areas in the Niger Delta must change their ways in terms of transparency and accountability to ensure that the vast amount of resources that have been flowing into the Niger Delta since 1999 can be translated into improvement in the lives of citizens. From 1999 to 2007, Delta State received the sum N463 billion from federal allocation. This amount is more than allocation to five states (Anambra, Gombe, Ekiti, Nassarawa and Plateau) put together. This is why Mr. Konyinsola Ajayi pointed out that “it is a shame that Delta State is not a mini-Dubai today, given the enormous resources that have been allocated to the state.” Until the people of the Niger Delta see politics as service to the people and not an avenue to “come and chop” either alone or in conjunction with others, there will be no meaningful progress in the region.

Igbuzor is a guest of the editor.

 

Otive Igbuzor

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Mexicans Set Up Labs In Nigeria To Produce Meth, Reps Confirm

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House of Representatives, yesterday, explained that since 1990 the production of crystal meth had been hijacked by Mexican drug dealers, who set up laboratories in Nigeria for the production of Mkpuru Mmiri in 2016.
The lawmakers then mandated the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), to go after peddlers of Methampheramine nicknamed Mkpuru-Mmiri and other hard drugs in the country with a view to stamping them out.
The House also asked the agency to reintegrate and strategize further on its enforcement and enlightenment capacity to cover the mode and cure for meth addiction which, it said, has no medical treatment at the moment.
The resolution followed a motion titled “Urgent Need to Sensitize Nigerians on the Danger of Widespread Meth Epidemic and Effect of Crystal Meth on the Nigerian Youths”, moved by Henry Nwawuba at the plenary.
Presenting the motion, Nwawuba noted the widespread meth epidemic and the effect of crystal Meth on Nigerians, especially the youths.
He also noted the highly addictive street form of the pharma grade amphetamine and the ill-equipped handling or stopping of the spread.
“Many homes in the south east are currently facing the dangerous effect of Methampheramine nick-named Mkpuru-Mmiri which translates to seed of water.
“Crystal meth is a crystal narcotic hallucinogen that is capable of destroying a person mentally.
“An estimated 75percent of the users in our society are adversely affected and they have become a burden to their families and communities.
“Since 1990 the production of Crystal Meth has been hijacked by Mexican drug dealers who set up laboratories in Nigeria for the production of Mkpuru Mmiri in 2016.
“Methamphetamine also known as Crystal Meth or Mkpuru mmniri was developed in Japan in 1919 and grossly abused during World War II when it was issued to pilots on suicidal mission then called KamKaze.
“After the world war, it was used briefly as a medication for depression and for controlling obesity, but it was quickly abandoned and banned thereafter, especially in the 1970s.
“As a stimulant, it has a powerful euphoric effect similar to those of cocaine.
“Meth typically keeps users awake depriving them of sleep, making them react violently and takes a toll on the physical look of its users,” he said.
Contributing to the motion, the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu asked NDLEA to trace the manufacturers and others in the chain.
“Who are the manufacturers? Where is the factory? Where is it manufactured? Who are the traders?
“When you beat young people, it is like double jeopardy. Somebody is a victim of the drug and you are still beating them.
“NDLEA should trace, and we should ensure rehabilitation of the victims and make sure we take meth out of the market.
“That is the quickest thing we can do; after taking meth out of the market, then we will know what to do with our citizens who are already victims,” he said.
Also speaking, Lynda Ikpeazu said that many youths of young ages were involved in the consumption of the drug.
“It does sound like a joke, but it is actually very serious and killing a lot of people.
“In the next 10 years, if we don’t stop it, we are going to have a zombie society.”

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Join Campaign To End Violence Against Women, Girls, Banigo Tells Nigerians

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has called on all well- meaning citizens, especially the male folk to join the campaign to end violence against women and girls.
Banigo made this call in her goodwill message in Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, to commemorate the 2021 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.
The deputy governor, who urged the male folk to be strong advocates in the quest to eliminate violence against women and girls, noted that violence against women and girls increase in the society during crises.
She said it manifests in physical, sexual and psychological means and most times perpetrated by trusted family members, while the rest of society look the other way, adding that sometimes women are also culpable when it comes to violence against fellow women.
Banigo said the state government under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike takes the security and wellbeing of women as top priority with zero tolerance for violence against women.
It would be recalled that November25 each year is set aside to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
It also marks the launch of 16 days of activism that would end on December 10, 2021, which is the International Human Rights Day.
The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!”.
Similarly, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has said that every girl-child must be intentional and focused in order to achieve success in life.
Banigo stated this while speaking during the Girl Child Initiative, Just Girls Talk Programme at the Government Girls Secondary School, Rumuokwuta (UBE), last Wednesday, organised by the Youth Church of the Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries in Port Harcourt.
Speaking through the Coordinator, Protect the Girl Child Initiative of the Deputy Governor’s Office and Senior Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor, Barrister Inegogo Fubara, Banigo said women are leaders created by God to solve problems.
“We are problem solvers, do not ever think of yourselves as being little because you are wonderfully created for a purpose. We are here to tell you that you can be whatever you want to be, but you have to work it out, education is very important and you must take it very seriously and be diligent in what you are doing”, Banigo said.
The deputy governor, who described Wike as the most gender friendly governor in the country said apart from having a female deputy, he has continued to appoint women into positions of trust and has encouraged women to run for elective positions.
Banigo commended the school authorities and the Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries for the putting up the Just Girls Talk Programme.
In his remarks, the Regional Overseer of the youth church, Pastor Chinedu Udechukwu said the Just Girls Talk Programme, has been going on in the church for years, noting that after the pandemic they decided to re-strategize and take it off to schools to talk to young girls about their vision and expose them to our Lord Jesus Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith.
Also speaking, the Coordinator of the Just Girls Talk Programme, Mrs. Esther Udechukwu said the Just Girl Talk was organised to enlighten young girls on the consequences inherent in premarital sex, the physical and spiritual aspects, as well as to empower and sharpen them for the future.

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Police Smash Four Deadly Kidnappers In Rivers

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Operatives of the Force Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in collaboration with policemen from the Rivers State Police Command, have arrested a kidnap syndicate that specialised in using Facebook and WhatsApp to lure their victims, in Port Harcourt.
The suspects admitted during interrogation to have kidnapped, tortured, raped and robbed their victims.
They admitted that their targets were usually female and that they have successfully collected ransoms from at least ten 10 female since January, 2021, with N5million their highest ransom.
The nabbed suspects are: Izunna Fidelis, 21; Humble Unity Okeregwu, 24; Izuchukwu Nwaobiri, 22; and Chibeze Nwike,23.
They were arrested in Choba and Etche areas of Rivers State.
According to the police, for suspects to get the attention of their victims, they take to their respective Facebook pages posing as foreigners working in multinational oil companies in Rivers State and professing love as well as proposed marriage to their Facebook girlfriends, all in a bid to trap them.
The police said their arrest followed report of kidnapping for ransom and the gang-rape of a 27-year-old lady identified simply as Happiness, on August 28, 2021.
According to leader of the gang, Nwaobiri, “The first thing we do is to check Facebook profiles for beautiful girls. Then, we would add them to our friend lists. Each of us works on different persons. I would start up a conversation with my supposed girl, exchange pleasantries and tell her that I worked with an oil company. I also asked if she was married or single.
“It takes time to familiarize with them, say two to three months. Thereafter, we would progress to WhatsApp chats and then telephone calls and when friendship has been established, we will invite them over to the company’s base which is a bush where they would be blindfolded and calls put across to their families.”
Nwaobiri added: “I started earlier this year because of circumstances. My mum is late, my dad has a stroke and I have been the one catering for everything. I have been involved in seven cases but succeeded in four.
“We only rape our captives if they don’t cooperate. That is, if they don’t mount pressure on their relatives to pay ransom.”

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