The Imo State government has reacted to an allegation by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike that it was frustrating its effort at curbing crime by offering amnesty to criminals declared wanted in the state, explaining that the amnesty it granted to “repentant” militants was part of its continuing effort to restore peace Imo and by extension, the Niger Delta Region.
The state’s Commissioner for Information, Prof N.O. Obiaraeri, who made the clarification in a press statement on Thursday, emphasised that the government “lawfully” granted State pardon to Ohaji/Egbema militants who hitherto operated around the Awarra Court Area of Ohaji/ Egbema LGA of Imo State after due consultations with the relevant security agencies and in the interest of peace in the region.
“The State pardon was granted as part of the continuous effort to restore permanent peace in Imo State and the entire Niger Delta region because these boys have been responsible for ceaseless oil pipeline vandalism, kidnappings, loss of lives and properties in the Awarra Court Area and entire Ohaji/ Egbema/Oguta oil producing communities of Imo State.” the statement read.
“The Security Council of Imo State made up of the Army, Police, SSS, NSCDC and others took the decision to grant State pardon to these repentant militant boys on 5 February 2018 after they voluntarily and publicly surrendered their large cache of arms and ammunitions and confessed to sundry crimes they committed in Imo State.”
Emphasising that the amnesty programme has helped to reduce crime in Imo, Obiaraeri noted that at no point did the Imo State government grant amnesty to those declared wanted by the Rivers State government.
“It is public knowledge that for a long time now, Imo State has been having zero cases of insecurity and as a responsible and responsive Government, the State Government in league with the State Security Council will do everything lawful and within its powers to continue to secure the lives and properties of Imolites and residents alike.
“At all material times, Imo State Government stands prepared and ready to co-operate with or share security information and strategies with Rivers State and or other neighbouring States on effective and mutually benefitting ways and means of combating transboarder crimes and criminality and promoting good neighbourliness.
“Out of abundant caution, it is made clear that no amnesty or State pardon was granted by Imo State Government to any person or group of persons for any crime or crimes committed in Rivers State, Nigeria or any other part of Nigeria beyond or outside Imo State.
“It is not the intention of Imo State Government to enmesh itself in needless controversy over this voluntary and successful disarmament exercise with Rivers State Government or anyone else as Imo State Government has not violated any laws or breached any protocols or security codes in granting State pardon to militants that operate within her territorial jurisdiction,” he concluded.