A senior Nigerian military officer in charge of disarmament and
demobilization of militants say hundreds of gunmen have accepted the
amnesty program and more are close to joining. The program is estimated to cost several millions of
Air Vice Marshall Lucky Ararile says each fighter who
turns himself in during the two-month disarmament and demobilization
program will receive a stipend of about $450 per month to cover food
and living expenses. Thereafter, they will undergo a re-integration
process for an unspecified period of time. Marshall Ararile says up to
10,000 militants in the troubled Niger Delta could benefit from the
"We are working something in the region of 10,000
ex-militants," he said. "So if you compute N20,000 Naira [about $140]
per month, if you multiply that by 10,000 you will be talking about of
billions [of Naira]. Five hundred naira [$10] per day per person [for
food], initially for the DD [disarmament and demobilization] program it
is for two months. For DD, that is the disarmament and demobilization
part of the program will last 60 days. Thereafter, the re-integration
program is indeterminate."
A leading militant group in the Niger
Delta this week announced a 60-day cease-fire and said it was open to
talks with the government. President Umaru Yar'Adua declared an amnesty
program for militants in a bid to end attacks that have crippled the
country's oil industry.
The amnesty runs from August 6 to
October 4 for all those who are prepared to lay down their arms and
renounce violence. The government sees the amnesty as the first step in
a process to bring peace to the oil-rich region. Air Vice Marshall
Ararile says some militants have accepted the amnesty and several more
are expected to join.
"A few [militants] have given up their
weapons in Akwa Ibom, Rivers state and Warri," he said. "We are in
contact with some groups that are ready to surrender- a group claims to
have about 350 people."
"We have not completed our discussions
with them. Those are the ones I can give you exact figures, but those
ones we have discussed with them, we are in contact with, I think the
population is even larger than what I have just said," he continued.
in the Niger Delta in the past three and half years has cost Nigeria
billions of dollars in revenue. President Yar'Adua has been under
pressure since coming into office two years ago to address the
instability. The militants say they are fighting for a fairer share of
the region's oil wealth, but criminal gangs are profiting from the
Analysts predict stability would only return to the oil
region when the government addresses long-standing grievances such as
pollution, underdevelopment and corruption.