BY EMEKA MAMAH
OWERRI- The Federal Government has rejected the amnesty granted to 1000 repentant militants, cultists and agitators from the oil producing areas of Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Governments of Imo State by Governor Rochas Okorocha saying that Okorocha had no powers to grant amnesty to people who had either murdered, robbed or kidnapped their victims.
Okorocha had in a bid to ease the siege on the residents of the two local governments, granted amnesty to some militants and cult members who were alledged to have kidnapped and murdered people including police officers as well as raped women in the two local government areas after they had repented and surrendered some of their weapons of destruction.
Before, Okorocha’s amnesty, the state police command had asked for military assistance following the level of heavy weapons, robbery, rape and kidnapping in the oil reach areas of the state.
This was even as the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, yesterday held a mass for 10 of the former militants at the Maria Assumpta Cathedral after they had pledged not to go back to their old ways in the presence of their parents and priests.
The 10 former cultists included Ikechukwu Obasi, Ngozi Ihezue, Goodluck Kalanwu, Innocent Uchegbu and Samuel Mbakwe Amadi.
Others were Emmanuel Madu, Valentine Madu, Calistus Igbokwe, Obinwa Opara and Godson Chibunwanne.
However, at the well-publicised event in the state, the militants were said to have handed over some of their arms including Ak-47 riffles, rocket launchers, pistols, charms, machetes, knives and axes, among others to the Okorocha’s administration, following the state government’s promise to grant them amnsty.
Among those who witnessed the event included the state police commissioner, military officials, the state director of the Department of State Services, DSS as well as other security agencies.
But, shortly after the incident, the Federal Government was said to have warned the state government on the alleged illegal action of granting of amnesty to cultists, kidnappers, militants and agitators asking it and other state governments to steer clear of such actions in future.
Reliable security sources told Vanguard in Owerri, the Imo State capital that some of those granted amnesty included some former militants who had earlier been granted amnesty by the Federal Government and trained in some foreign countries to become useful to both themselves and the society but they allegedly went back to their old habits of kidnapping and murder.
The sources said that two of such militants who were granted amnesty including one Felix and another Banga (not real name), were trained in some Asian countries on some trades and placed on monthly stipend of N65,000 each, wondering why the state government should give them another amnesty when they did not repent after the first amnesty by the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Obinna has asked the repentant militants not to go back to their old and crooked ways of life after they had knelt down before the altar and promised God that they had changed for good.
The former militants were called out, one after the other to renounce cultism, murder and stealing publicly before their parents or relations.
He later sprinkled holy water on their heads while praying for them before asking that those of them who had neither been baptised nor confirmed in the church must complete the processes to really make them “new children of God.”
When Obinna was told that all the repentant cultists were married with one of them already having a child, he said, “You have blood in you just like your victims. You feel pains like them (relations of victims or victims themselves) and you know how it pains when loved ones are either kidnapped or killed in the process.
“Now that you have promised before God that you will not go back to your old ways… and in the presence of your parents or relations, endeavour to keep your promises so that you do not disappoint God,” he added.
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BY EMEKA MAMAH