/ 15 September 2009

Nigeria confident key rebels will embrace amnesty

A top Nigerian presidential aide said on Tuesday he was confident key senior rebel leaders, who command thousands of gunmen in the oil-producing Niger Delta, would soon hand over their weapons in return for clemency.

Timi Alaibe told Reuters that his meeting with militant leaders Ateke Tom and Government Tompolo on Sunday was ”very fruitful” and the two rebels supported President Umaru Yar’Adua’s amnesty programme.

”Tompolo and Ateke Tom have indicated they were 100% for the amnesty programme, that they wholly accept amnesty, but they have also made some requests to the president,” Alaibe, presidential adviser on the Niger Delta, said in an interview in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.

Yar’Adua in June offered amnesty to all gunmen in the region to stem unrest which has prevented Nigeria from pumping much above two-thirds of its oil capacity, costing it billions of dollars a year in lost revenue.

”So far the number of militants that have come to be processed is about 6 000. Over 3 000 have been documented,” Alaibe said, before going to brief Yar’Adua on his latest trip to the Niger Delta. — Reuters