Bakassi Strike Force surrenders arms

                         

The Bakassi Strike Force (BSF) in Cross River State has surrendered its arms to the government, with a promise by members to be law-abiding citizens.

BSF’s leader Gen. Simply Benjamin, yesterday in Ikang, Bakassi Local Government, handed over the weapons during an amnesty for the ex-agitators witnessed by Governor Ben Ayade and the Commander, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral A. O. Suleiman, among others.

He said: “Today marks a memorable day in the life of the Bakassi Strike Force, of which I was the leader, a day the security agencies have won the battle and the war, and we have won our freedom and passed the message of our people’s suffering and agitation to relevant quarters.

“I thank the stakeholders, whose efforts and selfless concern made today a reality. I also thank President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Ben Ayade, Governor Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom State), and others.

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“I and my boys are now ex-agitators, some of who are awaiting release to join the amnesty programme. We appreciate this opportunity, and have laid down our weapons, never to go back to arm struggle/insurgency, but to remain law abiding citizens and pass any of our grievances through allowable lawful means and medium.

“We shall stick to our commitment in the MoU, and expect that the safety of myself, as an ex-agitator, and that of my boys are guaranteed.

“Cross River and Akwa Ibom states are tourism destinations, and it is important that their environs remain secure. Our experience in the creek over the years shall also help whenever we are needed.”

Ayade called for financial help from the Federal Government to take care of the ex-agitators, as it would be a burden to the state.

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The governor promised to stick to his end of the MoU.

He said: “I have a duty as a father to protect all citizens, and a responsibility as a governor to ensure security of life and property. Therefore, there is a complex relationship between my office as governor and my traditional role as a father.

‘’In the light of this, therefore, allow me the luxury to manoeuvre through such an agony that I have found myself today. It is unacceptable, no matter the circumstance, for any citizen of Nigeria, who is not trained to bear arms, to carry arms. To that extent, I wish to thank President Muhammadu Buhari, the chief of Army Staff and the commander of Operation Delta Safe for making this event possible.

“We thank you for your patience, tolerance and understanding that despite your superior fire power to take them out, you have allowed dialogue to prevail.”

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While taking custody of the arms, Rear Admiral Suleiman, said: “I told the governor that we shall not grant amnesty based on any conditions. I insisted on an unconditional surrender. We also met with the agitators and made it clear to them that once they surrendered their arms, we will on the needful. Ours is sacrifice and service to our fatherland. We do not need praises. What we are doing is a job we have made sacrifices to do.

“We will fight crime to a logical conclusion around the shores of Cross River State. We are apolitical as we are only discharging our role as defenders of our country. We have a mandate to protect the oil and gas infrastructure and we will not compromise.”

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