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Ex-militants’ rehabilitation wonderful, worthwhile –Imoke

GOVERNOR Liyel Imoke of Cross River State has commended the pace at which the Federal Government non-violence transformation training for ex-militants in Obubra is progressing.

Imoke, who gave the commendation at the passing out ceremony of the fifth batch of ex-militants at the Obubra camp, described the programme as "wonderful and worthwhile".

The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on State Security, Mr Bassey Okim, said the government would always support the amnesty programme.

The governor said that the programme was beneficial to the state because, as host of amnesty camp, it shared the collective interest in the enduring peace and security in Nigeria.

He said: "You will also realise that since the commencement of this programme peace is reigning in the country and in the Niger Delta Region specifically.

"So if we are hosting some of the elements that were responsible for the hostility, it shows that we are ready to sacrifice for the collective benefit of the country.

"If we did not provide this camp and no other state was willing to provide this, it means that the amnesty programme would not have come to full cycle.

"The peace that we are enjoying in the state and in other parts of the South-South and the Niger Delta is one of the direct and perhaps the best benefit from this programme.’’

According to Imoke, the ex-militants, who embraced the programme, are contributing their quota to the country’s 50th Independence anniversary.

"The boys have already contributed their quota by surrendering to the sovereignty of this country. I think they have done enough already.

"What we will always demand of them is that they should live in accordance with the terms of the amnesty programme. And I am sure that if you look at the faces you are seeing here, they are more anxious than some of us to be reintegrated into the Nigerian nation,’’ the governor said.

Imoke also commended the introduction of cultural displays by representatives from different states in the Niger Delta at the Obubra camp.

"A programme of this nature should not just be regimented or militarised. Cultural displays should go with it. Remember that these are ex-militants and we are trying to rehabilitate them into a larger society, into normal lives.

"Two years ago, no one could imagine that those boys will be dancing to their traditional tunes. It is an indication that they have finally been reintegrated into society. This shows that they have finally embraced peace, amnesty and have returned to normal lives,’’ Imoke said.

With the passing out of the 1,053 trainees in batch five, more than 6,000 out of the 20,192 ex-militants slated for the exercise have so far graduated from the Obubra camp.

Awards were given to the best graduating trainees; best leaders; best behaved; trainees who demonstrated high degree of honesty and integrity; parade commander and the group that won the tug-of war competition.

According to the Camp Administrator, Mr Ekpein Appah, the sixth batch is expected within the week.

By Nicholas Kalu, Calabar

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