Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike

Rivers government on Tuesday concluded the first phase of the state Amnesty Programme as 22, 430 cultists accepted amnesty in the state.

The government also disbanded all vigilante committees in the state with directives to the security agencies to take charge of scrutinizing such committees.

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Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers announced this during the submission of the report of the Rivers State Amnesty Programme by its committee in Port Harcourt.

He described the Amnesty Programme as very successful since about 22, 430 cultists accepted the amnesty.

Wike also said that the 911 assorted arms, 7661 assorted ammunition and 147 explosives surrendered is an indication that the programme was a success and the state relatively peaceful.

He, however, said that his administration had zero tolerance to crime and criminality.

“To show that Government is serious, I hereby disband all vigilante committees in the various communities.

“I direct the security agencies to make sure that we don’t have such committees except they profile their members to prove that they don’t belong to any cult group.

“Initially, people felt it was a political game. I thank God Almighty that we have proved our critics wrong. We’ve shown them that we are serious about ensuring the security of lives and property in the state,” he said.

Wike explained that the state government did not monetize the amnesty programme for a reason. He said the government preferred the cultists and kidnappers to sincerely embrace the programme.

He assured all the repentant cultists and kidnappers that the state would rehabilitate them and make them useful to the society.

”But if by tomorrow, you return to crime, know that amnesty does not cover you,” the governor said.

Wike also directed security agencies to go after all cultists and kidnappers who refused to voluntarily accept the amnesty offer.

Wike said that the time for amnesty ”is over and we are going to take the war to them.

”Since we have given you the opportunity and you have refused to surrender, you have become enemies of the state.

”The state will fight to the last to make sure that criminality is reduced to the barest minimum. This is what will make investors continue to have confidence to invest their funds in the state.”

Wike cautioned politicians not to politicize crime. He stated that anybody involved in crime should not be hidden under party politics.

“When somebody is a cultist, don’t say that that person belongs to party A, that is not fair.

“We have to fight crime; we have to join hands to bring lasting peace to this state,” the governor said.

He then called on the FG to support the state with adequate security. He said this is because Rivers State is the treasure base of the nation.

”If there is crisis in Rivers State, it will affect Nigeria. Therefore, for us as a government, we’ll partner with the Federal Government to pursue zero tolerance to crime.

”We will not support crime. It doesn’t matter the political divide. If you are a criminal, you will face the law.”

Committee report

Kenneth Chinda, the Chairman of the Amnesty committee, who is also the Special Adviser to the Governor on Amnesty, presented the report of the committee to the governor.

He said the committee was successful as it adopted a direct dialogue approach by establishing direct, honest, transparent and sincere contacts with the leaderships of the various groups through a discreet confidence building process.

The committee urged the government to disband all armed community vigilance groups. It also recommended that all communities surrender their weapons to the relevant security agencies.

The membership of the State Amnesty Committee was drawn from the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Police as well as the DSS.