The Akwa Ibom state government has concluded plans to establish two rehabilitation centres for 462 repentant militants.
The Chairman of Ukanafun Local Government Area, Mr. Uko Idiong disclosed this yesterday in Uyo during an interview with journalists.
According to Idiong, the repentant militants drawn from Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo council areas would be trained in various skills, including shoemaking, tailoring, welding and fabrication, carpentry and other petty trades.
He said they will undergo the vocational training at the Government Technical School, Ikot Adaidem in Ibiono Ibom Local Government and Government Technical School, Ikot Akata in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area.
The council chairman explained that the government decided on the move as part of the amnesty it granted to the ex-agitators who had terrorized, killed, kidnapped and destroyed properties in Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo local government areas.
The two councils were under siege by the militants for about two years (2017-2019, leading to the displacement of over 2,000 local residents, who fled to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Iwukem and other far-flung places in Uyo, Abak, and Ikot Ekpene.
Worried by the incidents, Governor Udom Emmanuel had granted them amnesty in early 2019, urging the ex-militants who allegedly belonged to different cult groups, to “come out from the bush, drop your arms for your sins to be forgiven”.
The amnesty deal supervised by the then Commissioner of Police (CP) in the state, Mr. Samuel Ogunjemilusi and other heads of security agencies, according to the Ukanafun Council Chair, has aided the return of peace in the troubled areas with the displaced persons returning to salvage what was left of their properties including farming.
“We are witnessing the return of peace and everybody displaced by the incidents are back”, he said but expressed worry that pockets of crime and criminalities were still being perpetrated by the idle ex-militants which he explained, was the major reason for the proposed rehabilitation camps.
Towards mitigating the incidences of petty crimes by the ex-militants ahead of the major intervention by government, Idiong said “they (the former militants) have been benefiting from handouts by some well-meaning people of the state, disclosing that “recently I also gave them N1million naira to share with each of them got N3,000”.
He blamed their resort to militancy, kidnappings, armed robbery and other petty crimes by the repentant militants on the decision by the neighbouring Rivers State government to ban motorcyclists which was their primary trade in Port Harcourt.
“You know these people were in Rivers State and their major pre-occupation was motorcyclists’ business and they had to return to their state after their jobs were taken off them by the ban placed on ‘Okada’
And to draw government attention to their plights, the Chairman said they took to militancy and killed several people including the sister to the current Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Udo Ekpenyong in his residence in Ukanafun.