Gov. Theodore Orji of Abia has called for the extension of the Federal Government's amnesty programme to some five thousand repentant kidnappers in the state.
The governor made the call on Monday in Umuahia at a public hearing on the non-inclusion of the former kidnappers in the amnesty programme, organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions.
Orji, who was represented at the event by Prof. Mkpa Agu Mkpa, Secretary to the State Government, said that the call became necessary following the omission of the kidnappers in the amnesty offer.
“These young people ought to benefit from the same amnesty package of monthly stipends and job/vocational training opportunities being enjoyed by their counterparts in the Niger Delta,” Orji said.
The governor said that the State Government had granted amnesty to the kidnappers within its limited resources.
He said that when large number of persons were unemployed there would be greater possibility of increase in criminal activities.
Orji said that the ex-kidnappers were eager to be involved in programmes that would enable them make a living.
Hon. Uzo Azubuike, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Public Petition, said that the event was initiated in a bid to find a solution to “an issue which had the capacity to engulf the society.
“Barely a month ago the committee was in Akwa Ibom to attend to a similar petition by ex-militants and the message is that there is still the danger of backslide,” he said.
He said that nothing would be left to chance, saying that collective effort should be made to create a community of love, peace and concord.
Mr Ahamefule Amaramiro, the Attorney to the Abia Committee on Amnesty, said the committee adopted procedures such as communication, advocacy and use of gatekeepers to reach and convince the ex-militants to embrace amnesty.
Amaramiro said that the activities of the committee were documented in hard and soft copies which were made available to the Public Petition Committee for reference purposes.
A participant at the hearing,? Mr Felix Ogbonna, appealed for the implementation of the outcome of the hearing.
Ogbonna said that the aim of the public hearing would be defeated if the proposals, suggestions and requests made before the committee were not implemented. (NAN)