The House of Representatives was on fire on Tuesday. The fire was ignited by a dead man, Don Waney. It took Speaker Yakubu Dogara to act as the fire service and put out the inferno before it could consume the green chamber.
It all started when a motion on the “alleged amnesty by Governor of Imo State Rochas Okorocha to persons who had been declared wanted by the River State Security Council” was introduced. Before Betty Apiafi (PDP Rivers), who presented the motion could catch her breath, a Rivers State versus Imo State face-off had ensued. It soon became an All Progressives Congress (APC) against Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tussle.
Deputy Minority Leader Onyeama Chukwukah (PDP Anambra) was pissed off with House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila. For two minutes, he gave it to the Lagos man. Speaker Yakubu Dogara’s plea fell on deaf ears.
Apiafi, while moving the motion, said: “With concern to the recent grant of amnesty to some persons who had been declared wanted by the Rivers State Security Council consisting of the governor, Commissioner of Police, Heads of Army, Navy, Air Force and the Security and Civil Defence Corps in the State.
“Aware of the deadly attacks carried out by the notorious Don Wanny ( now deceased) led criminal gang in Omoku Town, Rivers State on January 1, 2018, leading to the death of about 23 innocent citizens who were returning home from cross over night service.
“Also notes that following the dastardly attack, the Rivers State Government and the State Security Council acting on security reports on or about the 8th day January 2018 declared 30 persons suspected to be part of a criminal gang that has been terrorising the state wanted, with a monetary sum of N20 million ransom placed on each of them.”
Her colleague from Imo PDP, Nnana Igbokwe, saw no sense in her motion and raised a point of order. In his thinking, it was a dispute between two states, which only the Supreme Court could resolve.
His submission triggered a heated debate on whether it was right or wrong for a governor of one state to pardon a crime committed in another state.
Gbajabiamila did not think it was a matter for the House and he incurred Chukwukah’s wrath.
“What transpired in the last few minutes show there is a dispute. Where is the proper forum for its resolution?” He asked and answered: “The Supreme Court is the right place.”
Chukwukah jumped to his feet and said it was indecent to throw legislative boulders in the path of an issue that had to do with the loss of lives.
Orker Jev (APC Benue), Johnson Ogbuma ( Edo APC), Tajudeen Yusuf, Bashir Babale (APC Kano), Uzoma Anonta ( Abia PDP), Uche Nnam-Obi ( PDP Rivers) and Zakari Mohammed (APC Kwara) were also in the thick of the debacle.
Dogara wriggled out by referring the motion to the committees on Justice, Ethics and Privileges, National Intelligence and Public Safety for advice. He gave them one week to report back for further legislative action.
But who the hell was this Don Waney who wanted to burn the red chamber? Waney and his men shot dead some 20 innocent people on New Year’s Eve. He was killed later by the military, who also later fell his younger brother.
Afraid that time was running out of them, his number 4 and some others sought refuge in Imo State governor who graciously held a show for them and announced his plan to recommend them to the Federal Government for amnesty.
Okorocha said he forgave them. They submitted weapons. Yes, weapons of mass destruction. They said they had turned a new leaf. They were dancing. To them, it was a dance of penitence. To me, it was like they were celebrating the fact that they could enjoy VIP treatment after shedding innocent blood.
Emenike Agamu, aka General Red Scorpion, was fourth in command to late dreaded militant, Johnson Igwedibia, aka Don Waney. He led the men who surrendered arms to security operatives in the Imo State capital.
As at the time Red Scorpion and his gang of evil men held their show of shame in Owerri, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike was still looking for them. He had released a list containing their names.
Speaking at the Owerri circus, Scorpion confessed that the militant group led by the late Waney killed plenty people and blew up many oil pipelines. He said they were driven into crime by unemployment and poverty. Okorocha believed them. I do not. He thinks they deserve forgiveness and even amnesty. I disagree. He perhaps feels they should continue to enjoy the blood money in their kitty. No. No sir.
The governor called them activists. I say they are criminals. He said “their surrendering arms will end the security challenges we have in the Ohaji/Egbema, Awara and the rest of the areas where people have been on self-exile for many years”. I do not share his optimism. These boys will go back to the creeks and use their hidden weapons once they cannot get free cash again.
Okorocha called them “our brothers and sisters”. He was kind enough to admit that they stayed in the creeks and forest “perpetuating all kinds of evil, killing and maiming human beings”.
He added that “our children have decided on their own to come back to the society and be part of the society. They are doing so on their own, surrendering arms which they have used in committing criminal activities for what they called expression of grievances of different sorts”.
Okorocha was glad that “the lives of these boys have not been left in the hands of the military and police who would have wasted them but today they are been reintegrated into our society to become good citizens”.
The governor did not end without declaring the clincher: “The state has forgiven them and will subsequently give their names to the Federal Government for amnesty.”
For some reasons, I do not trust these men. I strongly feel that the weapons they submitted are just a fraction of what they have in their arsenal.
These guys do not deserve to be called human-beings. How can anyone who killed people who did not offend him be regarded as human-being? How can someone who killed just to score a point be regarded as human-being? I think we should cut them with knife and see if blood will come out. I have this feeling blood does not flow in their veins.
We were all in joyous mood that the New Year was here. Then Waney in his evil enclave told Scorpion and others to go to Rivers, his home state where he was even a titled chief, and kill fathers, mothers and children. And they obeyed. By the time they were through, not less than 30 people were dead. Before then, these evil men were known to have killed people and cut off their heads, which they obviously took away as evidence for their masters.
I concur with those who think that these men shed innocent blood in Rivers and if for anything they are to be considered for amnesty, it is Rivers’ business. Not Imo’s. Yes, they have camps in Imo from where they wreaked havoc on the two states, but the last offence for which they are wanted was committed in Rivers. What Imo is trying to do in this respect is nothing but playing the meddlesome interloper.
As pointed out by the Rivers State government, Section 212 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), does not give the Imo governor the power to grant amnesty to any person for an offence committed in Rivers State. May be Okorocha can grant them amnesty for the offences they committed in Imo State and pass them to Rivers to decide what to do with them.
My final take: Amnesty should not be for every Tom, Dick and Harry. The beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, launched under the late Umaru Musa Ya’Adua, were not known to have with impunity opened fire on innocent citizens like Waney and his men did on New Year’s Eve. These guys deserve to face the law and serve their time.