South South leader, Pa Edwin Clark, has strongly criticized those who equate the Niger Delta Amnesty program with the actions of northern bandits, stating that it is criminal to make such a comparison. He addressed the issue at his residence in Asokoro, Abuja.
Clark expressed pity for those who make such comparisons, emphasizing that the legitimate agitators in the Niger Delta should not be likened to the “blood-sucking bandits” in the north. He referred to an editorial in a newspaper that differentiated between the criminal activities of the bandits in the north and the agitation for oil resources in the Niger Delta.
The elder statesman noted that the Niger Delta Amnesty program worked because the militants anchored their fight on the sound economic and federalist principle of resource control. Their demands were based on the alienation of their people from the oil wealth extracted from their land and the environmental degradation in the region.
However, Clark emphasized that the northern bandits have no legitimate political or economic claims that warrant amnesty. He cited statistics from the Global Terrorism Index, which ranks Nigeria as the eighth most terrorized country due to the activities of various terrorist groups, including the bandits.
Clark commended the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) and some prominent northern Nigerians who condemned the advice of Ahmed Yerima to President Bola Tinubu, suggesting amnesty for the bandits. He also regretted the statement made by the newly appointed Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, questioning the effectiveness of amnesty programs and stating that they have failed in the North and in other states.