By Our Correspondent
The problem of arms proliferation, militancy and youth restiveness dominated discourse Monday at the flag off of Ecowas-European Union Arms destruction exercise in Calabar.
Cross River state governor, Professor Ben Ayade, representatives of ECOWAS- EU and Service Commanders in the state took part in the destruction exercise.
A total of 260 arms and 5510 ammunition were destroyed.
The arms were surrendered by the Bakassi strike Force and Khaki Boys.
Speaking at the occasion which held at the UJ Esuene Stadium, Ayade called for the inclusion of the Bakassi strike force into the Amnesty programme of the federal government.
He recalled that a similar exercise was carried out by his government in 2018 where over 5,000 militants surrendered their arms but regretted that “up till now, they are waiting to be enrolled into the Federal Government Amnesty programme.
“I would prefer that we find a way to find an alternative job for them. Let the entire members of the Bakassi Strike force and the Khaki boys be included in the amnesty program of the Federal Government of Nigeria”, the governor said.
Ayade lamented that with over 32 immigrants routes in Cross River, the state has became a veritable source for harvest of arms and harvest of young men.
He therefore, appealed to the federal government to give the state special consideration in terms of financial assistance.
Commending the efforts of Operation Akpakwu Security outfit in ridding the state of crime, the governor said he will not rest until criminals are totally routed out of the state.
He said because of the operations of Operation Akpakwu, the state, particularly Calabar has had the lowest incidences of crime in the country in the last two years.
Earlier, Joel Bisina of Lite-Africa who represented ECOWAS-EU at the event stated that the arms destruction was part of the mandate of the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
He commended the governor for strategically facilitating the voluntary surrender of the arms by the militants.
On his part, Special Adviser on Amnesty and Rehabilitation to Governor Ayade, Mr. Austin Ibok, said the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons was established by EU and ECOWAS as a program to provide an alternative livelihood to youths in Cross River, with emphasis on ex-agitators, such the Bakassi Strike Force, the Boki Freedom Fighters as well as ex-cultists, who had denounced their membership of various confraternities.