The recent amnesty granted by the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha to scores of loyalists of the late Don Waney, the mastermind of the Omoku New Year Day murder of 23 persons is, to say the least, a mockery of the security architecture in the country.
At the event which took place at the Heroes’ Square, Owerri, some members of Don Waney’s gang who have since been declared wanted by the Rivers State Government publicly surrendered their arms and were swiftly granted amnesty by the Imo State governor.
Okorocha, while receiving the gangsters said; “We are welcoming you back as our brothers and sisters who have remained in the creeks and forests for many years perpetrating all kinds of evil, killing and maiming human beings”.
Amongst the persons on the wanted list of the Rivers State Government but granted the amnesty by the Imo State Government were Emenike Agamu (a.k.a General Red Scorpion) and General Ajoku, leader of Egbema marine militants group who confessed to have masterminded the Omoku New Year Day killings, among other heinous crimes and criminalities in Rivers State and beyond.
In a swift reaction, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who had earlier raised alarm over moves by the main opposition in the state to grant amnesty to cultists and militants already declared wanted by the State government in conjunction with security operatives, said the amnesty granted by Imo State Government will have no impact in Rivers State.
Wike expressed shock over Okorocha’s amnesty proclamation on the wanted culprits, adding that the N20 million bounty placed on the heads of the 32 wanted cultists still stands.
While The Tide does not intend to deny Okorocha’s right to grant amnesty to repentant criminals, we think that the Imo State governor should have consulted his Rivers counterpart in whose state the crimes were committed to ascertain the true position of the security council on the activities of the culprits.
Even more curious is the timing of Okorocha’s amnesty considering that the 2019 general elections are around the corner.
We wonder what Okorocha intends to achieve by this miscarriage of justice. We expect him to be more circumspect in security matters involving lives of innocent citizens and not to take unilateral actions capable of jeopardising national and regional security.
Okorocha’s action is capable of undermining the South-South and South-East regional alliance formed not long ago to tackle cross boundary security and sundry issues.
No doubt, this latest offensive by the Imo State governor negates the spirit of brotherhood and comradeship which the regional alliance primarily sets out to achieve. It is a breach to that healthy pact and should therefore be condemned.
We agree no less with the position of the Rivers State Government that by the provisions of Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the Imo State governor has no power to grant amnesty to any person for an offence committed in Rivers State since such amnesty can only be granted with regards to offences created by the Imo State House of Assembly.
We also wonder what difference will Okorocha’s amnesty make given the fact that some of the cultists granted amnesty by him had earlier been granted amnesty by the Rivers State Government but abandoned the gesture and opted to carry arms again. What is the guarantee that these criminal suspects will not go back to their old ways?
It is on the basis of these that we urge security operatives not to relent in going after those on the wanted list with a view to arresting and prosecuting them in accordance with the law. Our leaders should stop playing politics with the innocent lives of Nigerians.
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Author: The Tide