About 22,430 cultists and militants renounced cultism and embraced the amnesty offer of the Rivers state government instituted on Tuesday, the State Amnesty Programme Committee said.
As a result of this, the state Governor, Nyesom Wike, announced the disbandment of all armed vigilante groups in the state and directed security agencies to profile members to ensure they did not belong to cult groups.
Wike made the announcement during the submission of the report of the Rivers State Amnesty Programme by the Chairman of the committee, Hon. Kenneth Chinda in Port Harcourt.
The governor further stated that due to the fact that 911 assorted arms, 7661 assorted ammunitions and 147 explosives were surrendered made the programme a success and the state relatively peaceful.
“To show that Government is serious, I hereby disband all vigilante committees in the various communities.
I direct the security agencies to make sure that we don’t have such committees except they profile their members to prove that they don’t belong to any cult group.
Initially, people felt it was a political game. I thank God Almighty that we have proved our critics wrong that we are serious to ensure the security of lives and property in the state,” he said.
He assured all the repentant cultists and kidnappers that they would be duly rehabilitated and made to become useful to the society.
Speaking further, he said: “For those we have given the opportunity, but they refused to embrace amnesty, I direct the security agencies to go after them. The time for amnesty is over and we are going to take the war to them.
“Since we have given you the opportunity and you have refused to surrender, you have become enemies of the state and the state will fight to the last to make sure that criminality is reduced to the barest minimum, so that investors will continue to have confidence to invest their funds in this state.
“I wish to tell politicians that you must not politicise crime. If anybody is involved in crime, we must not reduce it to party politics. When somebody is a cultist, don’t say that that person belongs to party A; that is not fair. We have to fight crime. We have to join hands to bring lasting peace to this state.”
“We did not exchange money for the return of arms. It was voluntary. We said, return your arms and denounce any cult group you belong to and we will give you amnesty. All those who have not gone back to crime, be rest assured that nobody will arrest you. But if by tomorrow, you return to crime, know that amnesty does not cover you.”
Giving a breakdown of the repentant cultists, Chinda, who is also Wike’s Special Adviser on Amnesty, said 6,985 were of the Icelanders cult group while Greenlanders were 942, Degbam 4,329, Dewell 635 and others 9,539.