James Sowole in Akure
Kidnappers of the recently released students of Model Secondary School, Igbonla, Epe in Lagos State yesterday threatened to strike again if the federal government does not include them among the beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme.
The militants claimed that they are indigenes of Eseodo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
They threatened that the impending strike would be deadlier than ever unless the federal government meets their demands of including them as parts of beneficiaries of Amnesty programme.
Speaking through its Public Relations Officer, Bossman Konowei, the militants under the auspices of Niger Delta Forest Army, said the present Amnesty Programme of the government was granted only members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the exclusion of other militants who surrendered their arms to the government.
Konowei whose gang claimed responsibilities for the violent crime, including kidnapping in Lagos/Ogun axis, said it was only the PDP supporters that were benefitting from the Amnesty programme after they had agreed to lay down their arms.
According to Konowei, the students kidnapped from Lagos State were released to the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, after 64 days in the kidnappersâ€™ den.
Ajayi and his Chief of Staff, Mr. Donald Ojogo, and an ex-militant took custody of the children at the creek between Ajakpa in Eseodo and Ugbonla in Ilaje Local Government Area of the state.
Konowei in a statement said they decided to release the student to Ajayi because they want to enjoy the amnesty from the federal government.
â€œWe wish to bring to the notice of all Nigerians that the recent release of the six Igbonla College students who were in our custody was done for specific reasons. It is out of respect for our state, especially the Deputy Governor, Ajayi, and his Delta State counterpart, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro.
â€œFor years, the then PDP governmentâ€™s Amnesty programme has been handled as a baby for PDP boys to the exclusion of others, especially in Ondo State. None of our pleas was heeded by the authorities. That is the reason we embarked on our Lagos/Ogun violent campaigns to attract attention.
â€œWe had done this for years and we are satisfied that we have made our points known. The Igbonla College raid was an operation we carried out as a sign of our last violent campaigns if government takes the issue of amnesty for us with all seriousness.
â€œIs it not laughable that after dropping our guns for the government, only few PDP youths benefitted to our exclusion? We hope the federal government will not allow our period of grace to get to another level of Ondo crisis,â€ he said.
The militants denied the claims that some of them were killed in the effort to free the students, saying the police were only trying to reap where it did not sow.
Konowei said they would be ready to face any force if their plea for amnesty is ignored by the federal government.
â€œThis is the last chance for permanent peace. We shall return deadlier if nothing is doneâ€ Konowei added.