Edwin Clark, elder statesman and leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has asked the federal government not to scrap the presidential amnesty programme for former militants in the Niger Delta.
Speaking at a virtual press conference on Monday, Clark said the warning follows the rumour that the panel set up to investigate the programme has recommended scrapping it.
In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the probe of the amnesty programme after the sack of Paul Boroh, its coordinator.
Allegations of financial misappropriation were leveled against Boroh but he denied any wrongdoing.
Charles Dokubo was appointed to replace Boroh while Babagana Monguno, national security adviser, was directed to probe the activities of the amnesty office from 2015 when Boroh was appointed.
In February 2020, the president also approved the suspension of Dokubu.
The government had said Dokubo’s suspension was in line with the recommendation of a caretaker committee set up to look into allegations and petitions against him.
But Clark said scrapping the programme will amount to trouble and that it will affect the “fragile peace” in the region.
He advised the federal government to tread with caution when dealing with issues concerning the region.
“I have cause to, again, advise or warn the federal government to desist from anything that will truncate the fragile peace that we have in the Niger Delta region,” Clark said.
“I say this because, just yesterday (Sunday), rumors were rife that the four-man investigative panel headed by A. A. Lawal, set up by the federal government through the office of the national security adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), to look into the activities of the presidential amnesty programme, had recommended the scrapping of the programme by December this year.
“If this is true, it will be an epic example of what we say in local parlance ‘trouble dey sleep, yanga go wake am’. This is not a threat; it is stating the obvious of what will actually happen.
“Our living condition in the region has worsened. The PAP should be allowed to continue for some more time.
I wish to advise the Federal Government to tread cautiously, except they have prepared another Operation Crocodile Smile. Wake not a sleeping lion. This is not a threat; it is a clarion call for peace.”