26 June 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Presidential Amnesty Office declared over the weekend that it wants an investigation and probe of its activities in the amnesty programme.
It noted that as a public institution answerable to the public, it is obliged to give an account of its activities, but detest blackmail.
This position was expressed in a statement signed by the Head of Media, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Owei Lakemfa, following a demand by what he terms “a faceless group”, demanding for the probe of the office.
In a statement titled: “The Presidential Amnesty Office welcomes probe but not blackmail,” Lakemfa said there was nothing wrong with a probe of a public office but said it objects to blackmail of the supervising officers, the leadership of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and their families.
Lakemfa said, “As a public institution answerable to the public, the Office is obliged to give an account of its activities. So in itself, there is nothing wrong with a probe. Also, a probe does not mean guilt; it is merely an inquiry to find out if any infraction has been committed. It is like a man undergoing routine medical checkup which does not necessarily mean he is sick.
“However, the Presidential Amnesty Office objects to the group’s follow-up blackmail of the supervising officers, the leadership of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and their families.”
He added that “If in truth this group wants a probe, it ordinarily would wait for the response of the authorities it has petitioned and the outcome of the probe. To proceed to call for so-called protests in and outside the country until the leadership of the Presidential Amnesty Programme is replaced is to pronounce guilt even before any investigation is carried out or the officials are given any chance to respond to a load of unsubstantiated claims.
“This is against the laws of natural justice, our national and international laws and ethics which give every human being the fundamental right to defend himself before a competent authority or court of law. This exposes the underbelly of the probe demand as being far from altruistic; it is an indication that a hatchet job is under way.”
He regretted that there is a growing culture of some persons mainly from the South-South who play on blackmail to get by or get contracts; adding that this would not work with the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“It is no more business as usual. Also, despite the blackmail, the Office stands by its decision that those on the Amnesty scholarship in tertiary institutions would not be entitled to be paid stipends along with their monthly In-Training-Allowance as this amounts to double payment,” Lakemfa said.
He added: “The Presidential Amnesty Programme is a professional and security interventionist agency designed to bring peace, stability and development to the Niger Delta and has so far succeeded in its primary mandate; it is, therefore, unpatriotic to seek to politicise it.
“It is indeed a security programme not a political one and the leadership of the Programme under Brigadier General Paul Boroh (Rtd), the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Programme, has strived and has so far succeeded in shielding it away from partisan politics.
“As we know, the Federal Budget was passed about midyear, which led to long delays in payment of stipends, school fees, projects and In-training-Allowance, but through painstaking reach out programmes, meetings, explanations and support by all and sundry, the Boroh leadership has been able to maintain continuous peace in the Niger Delta.”