CALABER/Nigeria: Governor Ben Ayade has called on militants and holders of small arms in Cross River State to voluntarily surrender them to government. He said his administration was determined to offer them a viable alternative means of livelihood once they embrace the offer.
The governor, who announced the amnesty during the formal launch of the ECOWAS–EU Small Arms Project and Community Engagement by the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapon (PRESCOM) in Calabar at the weekend, noted that the panel was mandated to negotiate with militants, cultists, armed robbers, kidnappers, individuals and communities with a view to making them better citizens.
Represented by his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu, the governor appealed to the youths not to subject themselves to a life in the creeks. He enjoined traditional rulers and sponsors to refrain from instigating communal crisis capable of causing loss of lives and property.
Ayade admonished the people to maintain the prevailing peace in the state, advising them to seize the opportunity the disarmament project offers.
PRESCOM chairman, Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, said the launch was a milestone in the quest to partner the state government in initiating and implementing the project.
He stated that the project was an initiative of the ECOWAS Commission geared at encouraging civilian disarmament at community level as well as providing alternative livelihoods to individuals who voluntarily disarm.
Imohe reminded the people that the proliferation of small arms was a global challenge accounting for over 500,000 deaths yearly. The figure, according to him, translates to a fatality every minute worldwide.
The European Union and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representatives, Mrs. Enobong Momah and Mr. Fred Ampia, said the effects of small arms proliferation lead to armed robbery, cultism, kidnapping and incessant killings in communities.
They, therefore, called on the people to embrace peace and refrain from conflicts which deter human development. The highpoint was the handing over of the arms management by Imohe to the state government as well as the destruction of a mobile armoury.