By Kemi Olatunde
It is no longer news that the Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government facilitates sustainable peace and development in the affected oil communities through mass employment and sufficiency in petroleum products among others.
Not quite long, the federal government made known its intention to incorporate fresh militants in the state especially as part of agreement it had with the kidnappers of the six students of Igbonla Model School, Epe.
Last Thursday recorded the laying down of large number of arms in line with the Ondo State coordinated amnesty programme where the turnout could be said to be impressive.
The exercise as gathered by Midweek Digest so far has recorded massive turnout of militants in the five collation centres including Igbekebo, Ugbonla, Ajapa, Arogbo and Igbokoda in the Southern Senatorial District of the state.
Three assorted guns, cartridges, fetish objects and ammunitions have been surrendered by the repentant militant groups in the riverine areas of Ondo State, The Hope has gathered.
During the weekend, additional AK 47 rifles, double barrel guns, pump action, Dane guns, live ammunitions and locally made artillery weapons among others were surrendered by the repentant militants.
Men of the Nigerian Army, the Navy , Police, and Civil Defence as well as representatives of each militant group were present at the collation centres to ensure that only authentic militants benefit from the programme.
The amnesty programme was part of the requests made by the kidnappers of the six students of Igbonla Model School, Epe Lagos state recently.
The government of Ondo State which played a major role in securing the release of the students promised to facilitate the amnesty programme.
Deputy Governor of the state, Hon. Agboola Ajayi who took the risk to effect the release and safety of the students is the Chairman of the amnesty programme in the state.
Ajayi, shortly after touring two of the collection points in Igbokoda and Igbekebo on Friday, said he was delighted with the level of turnout of the repentant armed youths who came out from the creeks to submit their weapons and embrace the amnesty programme of the Federal Government.
The Deputy Governor, called on those in the hideouts to utilise the window of opportunity offered by the government, adding that whoever fails to utilise the opportunity would be dealt with by the Federal Government.
Also speaking, the Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy Forward Operation Base, lgbokoda, Navy Captain Chindo Usman Yahaya, described the turnout as impressive.
Asked on the number of weapons submitted so far, the Commander said that it would be difficult to ascertain the exact number of weapons surrendered since the commencement of the disarmament process.
One of the repentant Commanders of the armed youths, Osipata Take Lion Zone 5, simply identified as Rabi, lauded the Federal Government and the State Government for the privilege given to them to lay down their arms.
He, enjoined his colleagues to embrace the exercise by coming out to surrender their weapons.
“This is an opportunity for us to leave the bush and live like normal human beings as well as have better education”, he said.
As at press time, the armed youths were still trooping into the centres for submission of weapons and documentation.