Countdown to the end of the 21 day -grace granted by Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, for armed youths to surrender their arms. On Monday (yesterday), at Ajapa Community in Ese-Odo Local Government Area, armed youths submitted their arms and weapons as they expressed their readiness to embrace peace.
The militants were said to be behind the abduction of six Senior Secondary School (SSS)m pupils of Lagos Model College at Igbonla, near Epe in Lagos State; Arepo pipeline vandalisation and several attacks in the riverine areas of Ondo State.
The militants were led by Ogailo Iborry Young (aka O.C) to the Collection and Documentation of Arms Centre in Ajapa community in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
They willingly dropped their arms and other weapons.
The event, witnessed by Deputy Governor and Chairman of Ondo State Amnesty Committee, Agboola Ajayi, representatives of Delta State government, the Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy Forward Operation Base at Igbokoda, Navy Captain Usman Yahaya, among others, was seen as the solution to restoring peace in the riverine area.
Some of the surrendered arms include Browning wz machine gun, Daewoo K3, Colt automatic rifles, general purpose machine gun, Breda 30, Fiat Revelli modelling, AK-47 rifles, rocket launcher, CETME Ameli, Heckler & Koch MG4, pump action and some automatic cartridges.
Also, the repentant militants surrendered military uniforms, police bulletproof vests, dynamites, grenades, bombs and helmets.
Iborry Young expressed appreciation to the state and the Federal Government for the fresh Amnesty initiative.
The militant leader traced the source of their arms to the Ijaw/Ilaje crisis of 1998/1999, blaming it on joblessness, poverty and government neglect.
He said: “If we may be asked our reasons for embarking on this struggle, our simple assertion to the public and other concerned authorities is that it is joblessness, suffering, poverty, oppression and neglect by the government.”
Iborry said the militants dumped their oil bunkering business and hatched another game plan to attract the attention of the government.
He said: “As it got to this point, we did not find life very easy. Thus, we relocated to Ogun State where the Government College at Igbonla, near Epe school boys were kidnapped. Their release led to the present arrangement through the courageous efforts of the deputy governors of Ondo and Delta states.
“We did not kidnap these boys for mere ransom but to negotiate our freedom and full reintegration into civil life.”
Ajayi said the amnesty was impressive as sophisticated ammunitions were surrendered.
The deputy governor assured the repentant militants of Federal Government’s readiness to provide job and education programmes, among others, to the repentant militants for them to be self-reliant, if they embrace peace.
He rejoiced with residents of Ajapa community for the restored peace in the community after years of face-off between them and the military.
Also, Navy Captain Yahaya said the exercise in Ajapa community was more impressive because of the record of the exercise since it started.
Five militant groups – the Awaja, Ogoolorunyo (led by Job), Ebie, Dragon and Atupa – had submitted their arms to embrace the Amnesty programme.