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Three hundred ex-militants in Nigeria’s Niger Delta are beginning new lives, after receiving government training for the past six months. A graduation ceremony was held in the town of Okehi town in Rivers State.
Nigeria’s minister of defense used the occasion to say the government will not extend the amnesty date given to militants in the region to surrender their weapons.
Defense minister - General Godwin Abe - says the Nigerian government is determined to ensure a successful disarmament in the Niger Delta region. But says amnesty won’t extend beyond the current expiration date.
“The deadline for amnesty is Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009. And by the Grace of God, government does not intend to extend it. I therefore appeal to all those that are still in doubt and who have not laid down their arms to do so and join all peace loving Nigerians in our quest for accelerated development in the Niger Delta region and Nigeria,” he says.
The minister spoke at the graduation – or passing out – ceremony of three hundred ex-militants rehabilitated by the government of rivers state. Abe says government is sincere about its plans to develop the region.
“I want to assure you that government is sincere and resolute in its quest to restore peace in the Niger Delta region. As you are aware, the development of the Niger Delta region is key in the seven-point agenda of the administration of Mr. President,” he says.
The governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, says 20 of the former militants have been given jobs in the state civil service.
He says another 300 ex-militants will be trained at the same camp for six months starting in October.
One ex-militant who attended the camp, Peter Wifa, says he’s grateful to government for the training and would like a government job.
I would like government to help me…. I do not care about their money. Just empower me so that I will not be idle. I…just need to have a job,” he says.
The former militants were trained in computer studies, agriculture, sports, acting and modeling, music and auto engineering.
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