Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
NO fewer than 3000 youths yesterday submitted their arms to a renowned cleric, Rev. Father Abel Abulu of St. Patrick Catholic Church Budor in Gokana Local government area of Rivers State.
The youths who came out en masse to denounce cultism also surrendered different kinds of guns and other weapons were touched by the efforts of the clergyman and Gokana Peace Ambassadors in restoring peace in the area.
This was happening after several attempts were made by the amnesty committee set up by the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike to make the cultists in the area to surrender their weapons.
The cultists on two different occasions refused to submit their arms to the committee in charge of the amnesty programme, pretending that they do not have guns.
It was gathered that their acceptance to the plea to repent was achieved through the intervention of Gokana Peace Ambassadors and the clergymen in the area who went into the creeks to preach peace to the cultists.
One of the repentant cultists who spoke to newsmen, Denbesi Isaac, said they decided to lay down their arms because they were tired of living in hiding in their land.
Isaac called on the state government to join efforts with the Christian community and the Gokana Peace Ambassadors to ensure adequate empowerment for the repentant cultists.
Isaac assured that he and his group would never return to their former lives of cultism for the sake of peace and development.
Isaac said, “We thank God that we are alive today. It was the preaching that the Rev. Father gave to us on the several visits he made to us that made us to change our mind. To me it is the handiwork of God.
“We are calling on the state government to include us in their amnesty programme. They should train and empower us so that we would not think of going back to our past lives.”
Meanwhile, the President of Gokana Peace Ambassadors, Kpakol Aleema-Kpakol said the group decided to embark on peace campaign following the wide spread of violence which has claimed the lives of several innocent souls in the area.
Aleema-Kpakol, who spoke alongside his Secretary, Tomei Barikpe Vycent, commended the effort of Reverend Father Abel for his commitment in ensuring the security of Gokana people.
He stressed the need for the State Government to inherit the repentant cultist for the sake of peace and development in Gokana.