Rivers govt angry at surrender of ‘toy weapons’ by criminal gangs

Apr 21 2017 - 10:23am

File: Weapons surrendered by criminal gangs on display in the ongoing Rivers Amnesty Programme

Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Rivers government has expressed disappointment at the refusal of criminal gangs in crisis-ridden communities of Bomu and Leewi in Gokana local government area in Ogoniland to surrender dangerous weapons in their possessions in spite of the amnesty offer by the state.

While the amnesty offer is no longer available, the state government has given those in possession of dangerous weapons one-week ultimatum to surrender them.

It was observed that the weapons surrendered were either in disuse or abandoned.

Ken Chinda, the Special Adviser to Governor on Amnesty Programme announced the decision of the government in Gokana local Government council Secretariat on Wednesday.

Chida noted that only an insignificant number of weapons were submitted as compared with the massive mayhem committed by armed gangs in Bomu and Leewi, which have been waging communal war against each other over the years.

Ken Chinda lamented that the over 3,000 cultists came out to embrace the state amnesty refused to surrender weapons in their armoury.

Visibly angry at the quantity and quality of arms surrendered during the amnesty programme, Ken Chinda said, “Look at the arms they have submitted they are not serviceable and they are toys. We saw GMPG expended pellets,  empty shells on the floor of Bomu and Leewi communities. And you have come here to say that you don’t have guns. What kind of self-deceit in this?

“The Paramount rulers are saying that these are all the weapons they have- toys. This is unacceptable. We sent people to Bomu; they came and said the community has directed them to surrender arms. I hear the Paramount ruler came out here to say that there no arms in Bomu community,” Chinda said while giving the criminals and gangs in Gokana one week ultimatum to surrender weapons in their armoury.

But he also announced amnesty will not be granted to criminal gangs in the local government.

He warned the Paramount rulers in the affected communities that after the one week grace, cultists known to government and security agencies will be declared wanted while paramount rulers aiding and abetting criminals in their domains will be dealt with according to law.

Also, Kenneth Kobani, the Secretary to the state government who is from the area,  warned that there is no the time to apportion blame about who started the criminal activities that have consumed many lives and properties. He said what is important now is to stop the killings.

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