Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs and Coordinator Amnesty Programme, Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh has said that Amnesty was granted by the Federal Government to youths who were involved in insurgency and not based on ethnic origins.
Boroh spoke in respond to series of ultimatum and demands by some ethnic youth associations in the Niger Delta Region who he said have assumed “proprietorial ownership of the Presidential Amnesty Programme”.
Head, Media & Communications, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Owei Lakemfa, who made the clarification on behest of Boroh in a statement on Wednesday, told Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko and Ndokwa people who have been agitating over some unsettled issues concerning the amnesty programme to insulated the Programme from partisan and ethnic politics.
The statement read: “The purported threat by the National Union of Izon-Ibe Students (NUIS) to shut down the Presidential Amnesty Office is uncalled for because catering for the welfare of Ijaw students as demanded by the organisation, is neither the mandate nor part of the objectives of the the Programme.
“Claims by the NUIS that the Presidential Amnesty Office is “diverting funds meant for the implementation of free education of students in the Ijaw (Region)” cannot be correct as no such funds ever existed nor was such ever appropriated under the Programme’s Budgets since inception.
“It is also necessary to clarify that the Presidential Amnesty Programme is not an ethnic agency but one for the entire Niger Delta Region.
“It was established primarily to cater for the 30,000 caseload of Beneficiaries who took the Amnesty and some youths from the Impacted Communities.
“Allegations by the NUIS that “students (under the Programme) no longer get their stipends and students abroad are being asked to come back…” are all false.
“Contrary to such allegations, the Presidential Amnesty Office is up-to-date in the payment of school fees and allowances..
“All students who are sent air tickets to return are those who have completed their studies and graduated.
“The claims of marginalization by the Itsekiri Youths and some of their leaders based on the fact that they make up 500 of the 30,000 Amnesty Beneficiaries, are unfounded.
“The fact is that Amnesty was granted by the Federal Government to youths who were involved in insurgency. This was not based on ethnic origins.
“The continuous protests by Isoko and Ndokwa Youths alleging non- inclusion in the Presidential Amnesty Programme is also misplaced as the Office has no powers to grant Amnesty to any one or group .
“For the good of all including the Region and country, it is better that the Presidential Amnesty Programme is insulated from partisan and ethnic politics”.