One of the Commanders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and head of the Icelanders, Mr. Soboma George yesterday night submitted his weapons with his Commanders at the Rivers State headquarters of the State Security Services (SSS).
The deal was facilitated by the Honorary Special Adviser to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on Niger Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe and the Head of the Presidential Amnesty Committee, Air Vice Marshall Lucky Ararile.
Soboma who looked boyish and in a blue jeans trousers and a striped shirt with a white hat said he was submitting the guns as a signpost to other groups so that they can take the same cue for them to collectively change the face of militancy from violent to intellectual.
Items submitted by Soboma who came with 23 of his commanders include 24 AK47 rifles, four G3s, a Machine Gun, one LAR, a K1 rifle and seven pump action guns. This was in addition to 22 magazines.
They agreed to taking up the amnesty but complained that there was fear that the government might turn around to kill them. Soboma cited the instance where he said he was coming back from visiting Ateke Tom last week and was “rapidly fired at” by the Joint Task Force.
He warned that should he be attacked after submitting his weapons and coming under the amnesty programme, the government “Would have itself to blame” as others would see it as an opportunity to shy away from the amnesty.
He appealed to President Yar’Adua to prevail on Governor Rotimi Amaechi to desist from demolishing the waterfronts since it would render them homeless as demolitions have been going on without the provision of alternative accommodation.
One of the Commanders of Soboma from Tombia, Mr. Alapiki Rueben, who claimed to has been an evangelist before enlisting in the Icelanders said that there should be a way of identifying them so that they can move freely without molestation especially as JTF has taken over everywhere.
Presenting the group, Alaibe said that he had been in negotiations with them for sometime and assured that they took the right decision especially as the federal government was committed to the programme.
He told them that he will take any of their apprehensions to the President and that they will be protected seeing that what they have done was in the greater and overall interest of the region.
He also assured them that anytime they wanted to go to the creeks to collect more guns, the JTF will escort them and protect them while after due documentation, they will pass through the processes for protection and retraining where they will acquire skills of their choice.
On the alleged attack on Soboma, both AVM Ararile and the Director of SSS in the State said they were probing the attack and assured it would not happen again.
Ararile said that they were doing everything to ensure that the amnesty goes without hitches and that the issue of waterfront was not what they decree due to the separation of powers which rule of law could not permit interference.
They asked them to do a proper documentation so that they can benefit from the programmes of government, and added that amnesty was total and unconditional.
For those who need reconciliation with their people due to the harm they had done to their communities, Ararile said they should inform them so that they can mediate between them and their communities.http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=151579