Presidential Amnesty Office says only President Goodluck Jonathan has the powers to approve the inclusion of more youths in the amnesty programme.
The Amnesty Office told reporters in Warri, Delta State on Saturday that it had decided to make the clarification following a protest by some youth agitating for inclusion in the programme, and others who claimed they were being owed monthly stipends by the Federal Government.
Head, Media and Communication of the Amnesty Office, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said unless the President took a decision on the issue, nothing could be done. Alabrah said, “It is only President Goodluck Jonathan that has the powers to include or approve another phase for such youths in the region to be enlisted in the amnesty programme.”
He said the office should not be blamed for the under-development of the Niger Delta, saying the statutory ministry and commission should be held responsible for such issues of development.
He said, “The mandate of the Amnesty Office is to engage the former agitators in the Niger Delta who had dropped their arms, demobilised and have been trained in various vocations.
I can tell you this mandate has been carried out to the letter.” Alabrah said the ex-militants enlisted in the programme had passed through the 3rd phase of the programme, saying that they should no longer be identified as ex-militants but Niger Delta Youths.
“These were youths who once took up arms against the federal government questing for the development of the Niger Delta. They were armed then, so we referred to them as militants.
“But after they were granted amnesty, we then referred to them as ex-militants. But now that they have passed through the 3-phase internationally required for this kind of programme, we can now refer to them as Niger Delta youths.”
Alabrah said the granting of amnesty to the ex-militants should not be seen as an end in itself, while calling for the development of the Niger Delta.