Amnesty and the Niger Delta Conflict. Effects and Solutions According to the Conflict Transformation Theory

Master's Thesis, 2021

88 Pages, Grade: 8.5

Frank Adogbeji Enakemu (Author)




Table of Content

List of Tables

List of Charts

1.1 Background to the Stud
1.2 Statement of the proble
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Stud
1.4 Research Question
1.5 Significance of the Stud
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

2.1 Theoretical Framework
2.2 Conceptual Framewor
2.2.1 The Concept of Amnest
2.2.2 The Concept of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR
2.2.3 The Concept of Securit
2.2.4 The Concept of Governanc
2.2.5 The Nexus between Amnesty, Governance and Securit
2.2.6. The Gaps in the Literature

3.1 Research Desig
3.2 Population of the Stud
3.3 Sample and Sampling Techniqu
3.4 Methods of data collection /Instrumentatio
3.5 Nature and sources of Dat
3.6 Method of Data Analysi
3.7 Validity and Reliability instrument

4.1 Data presentatio
4.2 Data Analysi
4.3 Discussion of Findings

5.1 Summar
5.2 Conclusio
5.3 Recommendation
5.4 Contribution to Knowledge




1.1 Background to the Study

Niger Delta has been at the forefront of the Nigeria oil and gas discourse in recent years. The reason for this is the fact that the treasure base of the Nigerian State has been characterized by neglect, underdevelopment, deprivation and conflict in the midst of oil wealth. Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa, is undoubtedly one of the continent's most prosperous countries. It has enormous resources (human and material) that provide opportunities for national development (Oyakorotu, 2008). Unfortunately, since Crude oil was discovered in the Niger Delta area of ​​Nigeria over fifty years ago, in Oloibiri by Shell Petroleum Development Company the region is still impoverished and underdeveloped (Aaron and George, 2010).

Given that oil has been the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, contributing over 90% of the government's earnings in foreign currency, it is surprising that the trajectory of constitutional development, socio-economic development and class formation has been massively impacted and dictated by oil politics (Owugah, 1999). Prior to the emergence of commercial oil production in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria in 1958, the area was essentially a pristine environment that supported significant living resources for the mostly sedentary population. The region accounted for a large proportion of Nigeria’s commercial fishing industry (Afinotan, 2009).

Since the discovery of oil, the state has claimed "ownership" and "controlled" resources. Very little of the benefits from the resources are ploughed back into the area that bears the environmental costs of oil production and are impoverished by it. Only a meagre 0.000007% of the value of the oil exported has been spent by oil companies for Community aid, while the state has spent less than 3% of the total oil revenue for the region's development (Rowell 1994). This is in contrast to what existed between 1946 and 1967, when major ethnic groups were the main contributors to the wealth of the nation. Subsequently, revenue distribution to the regions (now states) was on average 65%, as the principle of return was given priority over all previous revenue. By 1967, derivation was de-emphasised in favour of population and landmass, areas of serious deficit in the Niger Delta. According to Fage and Alabi (2017), "Niger Delta is a region with surprising paradoxes. Undoubtedly, the poorest region in Nigeria and the level of poverty and deprivation in the region are both shocking and embarrassing."

With the commencement of oil exploration in commercial quantities at Oloiribiri in the current Bayelsa in 1956, came great expectations for rapid growth and development. However, little was known about the pains associated with exploration of oil, such as spillage, deforestation, noise, various and other ecological effects. These adverse effects have been the lot of the people of the Niger Delta; it eventually dawned on them that the government was not willing to yield to their demands for adequate attention to their polluted and degraded environment. The persistent neglect has led to unrest by the people which almost got out of hand. Long years of neglect and conflict have promoted a sense of a bleak future, particularly among young people who see conflict as a strategy to escape deprivation (Niger Delta Human Rights Reports, 2006). This resulted in governments’ cracking down of Niger Delta Leaders with strong support, active influence and connivance of multinational oil companies (MNC); it reached a crescendo with the hanging of the environmental activist and Right Livelihood Award recipient Ken Saro - Wiwa and eight other kinsmen of his in November 1995, by the infamous government of the late General Sani Abacha.

Oshionebo (2009) noted that this resulted in an outbreak of armed conflict in the area; and the abduction and kidnapping of oil workers, especially expatriates. It is a known fact that exploration and extraction of natural resources always affect and alter the geographical environment of the areas where they are conducted. The impact of oil extraction in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria has contributed no less to the destruction of the fragile ecosystem, making this region "one of the world's most severely petroleum impacted ecosystems and one of the five most petroleum - a polluted environment in the world (Niger Delta Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Project, 2006).

As noted by Chidi (2010), as a result, the people of the Niger Delta, whose region was once a flourishing agricultural and trade centre of West Africa before the discovery of oil, felt dissatisfied with the status quo and expressed their feelings through various non-violent social movements at various times demanding for improved socio-economic condition and resource control. However, the approach of the Nigerian Government to their plight, legitimate demands and aspirations of the Niger Delta people was always that of indifference and violent repression.

The repressive reaction of the Nigerian state included the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and Ogoni's eight leaders in 1995 during the military regime of the late General Sani Abacha. Few other examples include the Umuechem massacre in 1990 (Suberu, 1996); Ogoni genocide (Suberu, 1996); the massacre in Odi in 1999 (Aghalino, 2009); the murders of Odioma in 2005 (Aghalino, 2009); and the massacre in Gbaramatu in 2009 (Adebayo, 2009).

Exploration of oil in the Niger Delta region increased the revenue of the Nigerian state as a result, there were expectations of rapid development and peace in the region. However, this was not the case because there is no sustainable evidence of development. Also, about 90 percent of Niger Delta inhabitants live below the poverty threshold of $1 per day (Walts, 2008). Therefore, instead of the benefits of oil wealth, people are impoverished and it has cause several conflicts in the region. This situation resulted in rebellion against the Nigerian state and multinational corporations (MNC) and led to the formation of militant groups that engaged security agents in armed struggle, as they made demands on the Nigerian State (Osaghae, Ikelegbe, Olarinmoye and Okhomina, 2011; Watts, 2007).

The disconnection of the economic benefits of the Niger Delta from the amount of funds spent on the development of the region resulted in rapid agitation of various groups in the region. While the Nigerian state can see the availability of the crude resources as a "blessing" and a source of priority in the global market, the communities in which this raw material is equipped, see it as a "curse". This is due to the fact that mass exploitation of oil has posed serious developmental, social and environmental problems that the Nigerian state and oil companies have long neglected (Omotola, 2006). Lamenting about this state of affairs, Owugah (1999: 106) notes that "the oil, which brought so much wealth to the nation and those in power, brought much poverty, disease, death, loss of livelihoods to the people of the oil bearing areas". The Nigerian state has rejected various attempts by people to draw attention to the problems and develop the region, and subsequent Nigerian governments have adopted a military approach to address the crisis that has occurred in the region.

According to Ugwuayi (2014) agitation against environmental degradation and poor infrastructure development in the Niger Delta, particularly by the young people dates back to the 1990s. A prominent movement was played by the Ogoni people and their leader, Ken Saro - Wiwa in the 1990s. According to Ejobowah (2000) "Oil, blood and fire” were words with which the older inhabitants of Ogoni land often described the situation in the Niger Delta in the 1990s. It was the description of the tensions between Shell, backed by the Federal government and the Ogonis (lbeanu, 2000). Soon, other communities from the Niger Delta region joined in the agitation. Another prominent example is the Kaiama Declaration of December 1998 which declared that the federal government and oil companies should leave Ijaw land by the beginning of the next year. This was a description of the tensions between Shell, backed by the federal government and Ogonis (lbeanu, 2000). Most of these agitations took a non-violent approach.

With the emergence of the Pan-Niger Delta Militia group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in 2006, the struggle for local control of Nigerian oil took on a more violent dimension. In addition to MEND, which clearly articulated their grievances namely the environmental insecurity and socio-economic marginalisation of the Niger Delta people, various groups have emerged in the Niger Delta. Unfortunately, some of the groups were driven not by the ideology of liberation, but by criminality. Regardless, these groups created a difficult security challenge in the Niger Delta (Aaron, 2010).

Oil installations were attacked, and oil workers, especially expatriates, were initially abducted in exchange for ransom. All this happened despite the heavy presence of the Joint Task Force (JTF), consisting of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, who were sometimes defeated by the superior firepower of the militants (Aaron, 2010). The implications of this security were serious as oil production plummeted to an all-time low because many Trans National Corporations (TNC) announced the shutdown of some of their production fields. For example, average production in 2009 amounted to approximately 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd), down from 2.7 million bpd (NNPC, 2009). The country lost about $92 billion of oil export revenues due to the shutdown and oil theft associated with the activities of militants (Davis, 2009). The cumulative effect of this was a drastic decline in oil exports out of the country. As a result, public finances have been subject to one of the worst crisis since independence.

To stop violence, President Umaru Yar'Adua (late) on June 25, 2009 announced an amnesty for militants who were ready to give up their weapons. Amnesty, is defined as: "Pardon by the government for a group or group of people, usually a political offense; the act of sovereign power officially forgives certain classes of people who are under trial but have not yet been convicted. “It includes more than just forgiveness because it removes all legal memory of crime. Amnesty is increasingly used to express" freedom "and time, in which prisoners can free themselves. Amnesty is grace for citizens who break the law. After granting the amnesty, citizens receive immunity from prosecution and no violation records are kept. The end result is that these people are considered free by the governing body. Amnesty is always granted before the accused citizen is formally convicted of any crime. The amnesty program was in phases: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Aaron (2010). Disarmament was the collection, documentation, control and disposal of small arms, explosives, and ammunition, light and heavy weapons of the ex-militants. It was primarily aimed at reducing or controlling the number of weapons held by the ex-militants before demobilisation.

Demobilization entails the formal and controlled discharge of active militants from armed groups, that is, armed groups are formally disbanded. It was basically the transition of ex-militants from militant to civilian life. At this stage the militants are generally separated from their commanders and transported to cantonments. Reintegration entails the process of reintegration of former fighters / fighters into civil society, preventing the possibility of a renewed outbreak of armed conflict (Nwachukwu and Pepple, 2011).

After his inauguration as President in 2007, late President Musa YarAdua came up with an idea for the development of the Niger Delta, which he tagged ‘Niger Delta Development Plan.’ In this respect, nothing has been done before. He also founded the Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs. Again, on June 25, 2009, he granted amnesty to the "militants" through the DDR programme which included the surrendering of arms within sixty days (60) days (Aaron, 2010). In addition, militants were to renounce violence by filling and signing the execution of renunciation of militancy form. The repentant militants were to be paid the sum of ₦65,000 (about $ 430) a month for 42 months of the demobilization and reintegration aspect of the programme. This is in addition to the daily feeding allowance of ₦1,500 (about $10). In addition to disarmament, repentant militants were to undergo some form of skills acquisition to enable their socio-economic reintegration into society (Aaron, 2010).

The leaders of the different militant groups, including Ekpemupolo (Tompolo), Henry Okah, Asari Dokubo, Fara Dagogo, Ebi Ben, Ateke Tom, Saboma Jackrich (aka Egberipapa), gave up their weapons. Tompolo and his group gave "117 assorted rifles, 5467 rounds of live ammunition, 20 camouflage bullet proof jackets, 26 camouflage uniforms and two helmets. According to Etepe (2009) cited in Asua, (2013), 26,356 militants surrendered their weapons at various disarmament centres. A total of 26,760 guns of different types; 287,445 rounds of ammunition 18 gun boats and 1,090 dynamites were surrendered (Omadjohwoefe, 2011). In this context, the aim of this study is to assess the impact of the amnesty program on governance and security in the Niger Delta with special focus on oil pipeline vandalisation.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The major challenges facing Nigeria’s national security has been the containment of diverse manifestations of violence spearheaded by various groups. One major crisis that has faced contemporary Nigeria and that has stretched the resources, expertise, patience and even the competence of Nigeria’s security apparatuses to the limit, both individually and collectively, is the militancy in the Niger Delta. According to Nwozor (2013):

One of the shortcomings of Nigeria’s security management is its power orientation that accords the deployment of force preeminent position. Thus, the strategy of choice among national security managers is the use of force in various guises to subdue those identified as threatening national security. But the government’s supposed superior force has not rolled back the menace of insecurity which creates the impression that the government is not doing enough to secure the people.

The deployment of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) to restore order and create a conducive environment to do business could not tame the militants. However, no State relies exclusively on the use of violence or force to ensure social order. It resorts to non-violent strategies as well, especially, when it comes under intense pressure from the people which threaten the interest of its survival (Asua, 2013). The Niger Delta crisis arose as a result of the suffering of the region from environmental degradation, pollution, oil spillage and general underdevelopment of the region which in turn gave rise to the militancy in the region. Thus, confronted with persistently intense agitation from the communities, the Nigerian State, in response, adopted the strategy of symbolic concessions. The State, thus, raised the percentage on derivation of the oil producing states from 1.5% to 3% and later 13% (Owugah, 2010).

It is also within this context that the setting up of series of development commissions for the Niger Delta should be understood. The commissions started with the Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) in 1960 followed by the Niger Delta River Basin Development Authority (NDRBA) in 1976, then the Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) in 1992 (Asua 2012:4). In the year 2000, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established. Despite all these, the agitations did not stop. The Nigerian Government resorted to the non-violent approach of conflict resolution by initiating the Amnesty programme which had a DDR component. In 2009, a deal was struck between the government and the militants in order to create a peaceful environment for the Niger – Delta people. Precisely on the 24th of June, 2009, the Late President Yar'Adua announced the 60 days amnesty policy.

This policy was the outcome of various reports submitted by the 45-member Technical Committee on the Niger Delta that was inaugurated on the 28th of September, 2008. The Committee recommended that government should appoint a mediator to facilitate discussions between government and militants; grant amnesty to some militant leaders; launch a disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation campaign; and increase the percentage of oil revenue to the Delta to 25 percent from the current 13 percent. Others are to establish regulations that compel oil companies to have insurance bonds; make the enforcement of critical environmental laws a national priority; expose fraudulent environmental clean-ups of oil spills and prosecute operators; and end gas flaring by 31st December 2008 as previously ordered by the Federal Government (Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, 2008).

As directed by the report, the government further set up a Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Militants in the Niger Delta on the 5th of May, 2009 to implement the recommendation concerning the granting of amnesty to Niger Delta militants. In its recommendations, this Panel set out the terms, procedures and processes for the granting of amnesty to the Niger Delta militants. The Amnesty policy was eventually unveiled on 25th June, 2009 and scheduled to run, for a period of 60 days. It was to be effective from 6th August to 4th October, 2009. A condition was attached to it: ‘the willingness and readiness of the militants to give up all illegal arms in their possession, completely renounce militancy in all its ramifications unconditionally, and depose to an undertaking to this effect’ (Federal Government of Nigeria, Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, 2009).

Despite the Amnesty programme, Nigeria has continued to experience attacks by militants on its crude oil facilities. Highly destructive and disruptive pipeline attacks have resumed in the Niger Delta even as the decline in oil price continues to reduce falling Government revenue. The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was forced to shut down refineries at Port Harcourt and Kaduna on 17 January 2016. These refineries produce 5.4 million of the 6.8 million litres of petrol the country processes per day. This followed breaches to the Bonny–Okrika pipeline to Port Harcourt and the major Escravos–Lagos route to Kaduna, attacked by militants on 15 January 2016 (Natznet 2016). Nigeria’s Minister for Power Raji Babatunde Fashola during an interview in 2016 said the closures meant the country was losing $2.4 million (US) per day in lost gas supply and electricity charges. On 28 January 2016, a key pipeline used by the Nigerian subsidiary of Italian oil company Eni was attacked in Bayelsa State. A Business Day Newspaper report on 28 September 2016 in one of its stories reported that “Nigeria loses N4.7bn daily to Bonny Export Terminal pipeline damage carried out by militants’ attacks. It is in this light that this research aims to find out why such activities are still taking place despite the amnesty programme which was supposed to help solve the crisis.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of the Presidential amnesty programme granted to the Niger Delta militants on Governance and Security in the Niger Delta with focus on pipeline vandalization.

The study is set to achieve the following specific objectives

1. Determine if disarmament helped to stop the conflict in the Niger Delt
2. Determine the nature and causes of conflict in the Niger Delta regio
3. Determine if reduction in oil pipeline vandalism increased crude oil exploratio
4 Determine if the amnesty programme brought about development in the Niger Delta region

1.4 Research Questions

This research will to answer the following research questions:

1. Did disarmament helped to stop the conflict in the Niger Delta
2. What is the nature and causes of conflict in the Niger Delta region
3. Did the reduction in oil pipeline vandalism increased crude oil exploration
4. Did the amnesty programme bring about development in the Niger Delta region?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The significance of this research will be discussed under its theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, this study has contributed to the scientific debate and other existing literature on the amnesty programme. The study has also shed some light on the impact of the amnesty programme on the Nigeria economy and national security. This work, like other notable ones including Simon, Bassey and Ebenezer (2013), Ibaba (2011), Egwemi (2010), Olubayo and Olubisi (2012), Olatoke and Olokooba (2012) and Aluede (2012), has given a critical appraisal of the amnesty programme assessing its impact on the lives of Niger Delta inhabitants; and by presenting a more recent analysis on the Niger Delta conflict.

Practically, the work will determine how the amnesty programme will holistically solve the conflict in the Niger Delta, by not only transforming individual and group’s interest as presently observed. But will be of immense benefit on the socio-economic and political development in the Niger Delta.

The findings of the research will be predicated on how the context, structure, issues and actors in the Niger Delta conflict will be transform ensuring sustainable peace, sustainable development and sustainable reintegration of ex-militants as well as socio- justice.

According to Awolu (2009), the Niger Delta is known for its biodiversity due to the numerous varieties of plant and animal species in the region, including many exotic and exceptional flowers and birds. Unfortunately, the region has probably turned out to be the most polluted in the world. It is not surprising that for decades people in the Niger Delta have complained about environmental pollution, poverty and underdevelopment in the region. They believe that they have not received fair treatment from the Nigerian State. However, agitations by youths in the region has resulted in a regime of restiveness, which resulted in the formation of several militant groups (some ethnic based), who target oil corporations and their employees for hostage taking, vandalising of oil facilities, kidnapping, and sometimes even murder. In illuminating the instability of the Niger Delta, many descriptions have ensued. In the amnesty document, the government recognizes the imperfections of previous state interventions to meet the needs of the population. The government also observed a threat to peace, security, order and good governance and the Nigerian economy through the militant agitation. The amnesty proclamation also acknowledged the need to harness energy of young people for development in the region.

In an attempt to put these crises to permanent rest in the region and in the Nigerian state in general, all who were directly or indirectly associated with militant activities in the Niger Delta were made to surrender and hand over all equipment, weapons, arms and ammunition including signing the “execution of the renunciation of Militancy” forms specified in the schedule.

This research will aim to fill the gap in the literature on the use of a peaceful mechanism to resolve the Niger-Delta conflict, and finally, if the study succeeds in clarifying issues relating to the Niger Delta, it will add to the growing pool of literature on amnesty programme, its significant to development of the Niger Delta, which will in turn benefit researchers and students who wish to carry out further study on this topic.

1.6 Scope of the Study/Delimitation

Scope: This research assesses the impact of the presidential declaration of amnesty to the militants in the Niger Delta in 2009 on security and development in the region. Apart from other forms of insecurity, this study also focuses on oil pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region. The Rivers State government declared amnesty for ex-militants but this study will only focus on the 2009 presidential amnesty programme.


In the course of carrying out this research the researcher encountered some challenges The first was that some of the participants particularly leaders of some ex- militant groups were unwillingly to participate in the study consequently , their subordinate were substituted in their place .

Another challenge encountered by the researcher was the trying to reach out to some of the respondents who have been contacted on telephone to participate in the Focus Group Discussions (FGD) due to the difficult terrain However, FGD were organised in central locations that made it easier for all the respondents to participate in the FGD.

Lastly, the researcher also has challenges locating some of the beneficiaries of the federal government amnesty programme of 2009. However, through referrers the researcher and his team were able to locate them.

1.7 Study Area

The area which is described as the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria lies between latitude 40 and 60 north of the equator and 40 and 80 east of the Greenwich, sitting directly on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria. It comprises the state of Akwa- Ibom, Cross – River, Edo, Imo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Abia and Ondo, making it contemptuous with all of Nigeria’s oil producing state stretching over 20,000 km2 of swamp land in the littoral fringes of the Country, it embraces one of the world’s largest wetland, over 60% of Africa’s largest Mangroves forest and one of the world most expensive mangroves forest (Enyinla and Ukpo, 2009) and (Ajodo and Ojua, 2013) Nigeria’s Niger Delta Region is the world’s largest wetland and Africa’s largest delta covering 70,000km2 (world Bank1995). It also accounts for 7.5% of the total land mass of Nigeria. It extends from Apoi to Bakassi, and from Mashin creek to the Bight of Benin. It has a coastline of 560km, about two thirds of the entire coastline of Nigeria. (Michael, 2013).

The estimated population of the Region is about 31 million, consisting of over forty different ethnic groups and affiliations speaking 250 different languages and consisting of about 300 communities. The predominantly occupation of the people are farming and fishing. However, the advent of oil exploration over five decades ago, the region has become the major source of foreign exchange earnings for the nation as a whole (Ugbomeh and Atubi, 2001



This section reviewed relevant literature related to the key research question of this paper, with a view to clarifying the gap in knowledge that this study seeks to fill.

2.1 Theoretical Framework

For every phenomenon, there is a theoretical framework that backs it. This research adopted the Conflict Transformation Theory. The need for positive transformation of the Niger Delta conflicts cannot be over emphasized. Conflict transformation theory is relatively new in the field of peace and conflict studies. Conflict transformation theory owes it emergence to different schools of thoughts (Miall, 2004). These include European structuralists such as Senghas (1973) and Kirippendorf (1973) who analyzed conflict formations. A collection of Galtung’s (1996) serves as an important contribution to the development of a conflict transformation theory. Other contributors include Curle (1996), Vayrynen (1991) Azar (1990) Rupesinghe (1995, 1998) and Lederach (1997). According to Udegbunam (2013), The central thesis of conflict transformation theory is that contemporary violent conflict requires something more than a mere changing of positions and the identification of win-win outcomes. It acknowledges that the very structure of parties and relationships may be embedded in a pattern of conflictual relationships that extend beyond the particular site of conflict.

According to Mail (2004), “conflict transformation is therefore a process of engaging with and transforming the relationships, interests, and discourses and, if necessary, the very constitution of society that supports the continuation of violent conflict”.

The theory also recognizes that conflicts are transformed gradually, through a series of smaller or large changes as well as specific steps by means of which a variety of actors may play important roles. Lederach (2003) defined conflict transformation as envisioning and responding to “the ebb and flow of social conflict as life-giving opportunities for creating constructive change processes that reduce violence, increase justice in direct interaction and social structures, and respond to real-life problems in human relationships." According to Lederach (2003), The language of resolution implies finding a solution to a problem.” Implied in this understanding is a certain “definitiveness” and “finality” that suggests that the conflict or conflicts have been amicably resolved. In this sense, the focus of resolution is the ‘presenting problems’ or the ‘substance and content of the problem’”.

In relation to the above, Lederach (2003) implies that conflict resolution is not oriented toward change; rather, it is concerned with how to “end something that is not desired”. The basis of Lederach’s conflict transformation is change. It is about ending something that is not desirable and building something that is desirable.

As outcome, conflict transformation implies a qualitative change from a condition of violence to a condition of peace with little or no opportunities for reversal. It is a change system that transforms: (a) the conflict itself; (b) some aspects of the socio-historical and political system in which the conflict occurs; (c) the persons involved in the conflict; and (d) the relationships between adversaries. It is transformation at these multiple levels that ultimately produces peace. This conclusion should not obstruct the investigation of the schism between change and stability. While stability may be the outcome of change, stability is often resistant to change, hence conflict. Stability, which is generally regarded in contemporary discourse as the logical outcome of every peace program or as an end itself, is not coterminous with peace. Stability in the Niger Delta context may imply the reproduction of oppressive socio-political structures, inequality, lack of legitimate economic access, pollution, grinding poverty, illegal oil bunkering, and class and ethnic disparities in human development - all of which are either sources or aggravating factors to the protracted armed conflict. Thus, imbedded in the conflict transformation model are tensions of structural conduciveness, strain, new beliefs, precipitants, mobilization, and social control (Foran, 2005).

The conflict transformation theory is necessary to our present study because the Niger Delta conflict has to be transformed to an environment of peace devoid of conflict and violence. The federal government attempted this transformation in 2009 when it introduced amnesty programme. However, this programme only restored temporarily peace for oil exploration and production to continue, while the socio – economic development that the region needs is still lacking. As a result various armed groups such as the AVENGERS continue to emerge in the region especially when there is intense frustration among the youth.

The amnesty programme contained a general pardon to all persons who participated either directly or indirectly in violence in the Niger Delta region. It was a blanket amnesty that included forgiveness and automatic freedom from any form of prosecution whatsoever. The amnesty had a time frame which was form August 6 to October 4, 2009. Within this period, an individual member of the armed groups in the region was expected to surrender his or her weapons in exchange for presidential pardon. The amnesty also contained a disarmament for willing militants youth in the area. Contrary to all expectations, the disarmament process witnessed the surrendering of about 2,700 sophisticated guns and 300,000 rounds of ammunition by 15,000 militants (Davidheiser and Nyiayaana, 2009).

While the disarmament process could be described as successful, given the initial attendant scepticism and the de-escalation of armed conflict in the area, the limitation of the process lies in its focus on the militants alone without attempting to disarm the community that produced these militants. As Davidheisser and Nyiayaana contend, the proliferations of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) orchestrated by protracted intra and inter-communal armed struggles in the region have necessitated a need to disarm some of the communities as well as disband their vigilante groups. Such disarmament process will involve exchange of arms for development program as incentives. This will help to mop up arms in circulation while security operatives focus on checking new forms of importation and proliferations.

According to Udegbunam (2013), the various vigilantes will also be disarmed and replaced by government security agents. This is important because some of the ex-militants groups started as vigilante groups. The Government should take the issue of mopping up the communities seriously and factor it in at this post amnesty era. The amnesty programme also contained demobilization plan. This was to precede reintegration. The A mnesty Committee used the hierarchies of the militants to arrange for their demobilization and even reintegration program. An interview with some of the camp officials reveals that the initial attempt to disregard their leaders and deal with each of them as individuals proved abortive as the Obubra Camp in Cross River State, centre for the rehabilitation programme, temporarily became another militant camp because the ex-militants became very hostile to camp authority and exhibited various acts of indiscipline.

According to Asua(2013), “This situation led to a return to dealing with the ex-militants through their leaders, who in turn helped in the maintenance of peace in the camp. The payments of the ex-militants were initially conducted through their various leaders. The Amnesty Committee also enlisted them for the rehabilitation program through their leaders. For instance, the Committee would announce that the camp will open only to ex-militants from a particular leader’s camp; sometimes it merged two or more groups. This method, while ensuring orderliness, did not demobilize the groups. In fact, it further remobilized each camp since each camp saw itself as a group with common identity and cause. Thus after the two weeks stay in camp, the ex-militants were sent back to await the empowerment programme that will reintegrate them into the larger community. The reintegration programme was in two phases. The first phase was the rehabilitation program that lasted for ten days. The ex-militants were exposed to training courses on types and causes of conflicts, nonviolent methods of conflict management, and the negative impacts of conflict. In other words, attempts are made to de-psychologise them of violent mentality. Provisions were also made for counselling by psychologists. Through the counselling provided, each ex-militant decided what kind of vocation he or she would embark upon in the second phase of the reintegration programme”.

Udegbunam (2013), we need to point out that the period allotted to the rehabilitation programme is rather too short to make any serious impact on people who have spent years as combatants. While the process of rehabilitation was important, the shortness of the time for the re-orientation made the process shallow. The effect was that the ex-militants merely passed through the teaching without time to thoroughly internalize the contents of the programme. The second phase in the reintegration programme is the skill acquisition or empowerment training for the ex-militants. As earlier pointed out, the counselling period in phase one helped the ex-militants to decide how best they wish to be reintegrated into civilian life. They have chosen to pursue different careers ranging from welding, to engineering, safety management, carpentry, and a few have indicated interest in going back to school. The duration for the second phase lasts from 3 –18 months. Akinwale (2010) noted that this phase also includes helping the ex-militants to establish sustainable means of livelihood by granting them capital and other necessary tools. This is done in conjunction with the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs, National Poverty Eradication Program (NAPEP), the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Association of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) .This phase is still ongoing with many ex-militants undergoing training in various parts of the world.

In line with the conflict transformation theory, for the amnesty programme to achieve lasting peace the contents should be able to transform the conflict in the region. To be able to do this, the programme should be re-positioned to transform the contexts, structures, actors and issues in the conflict. Udegbunam (2013) noted that at the moment due to narrow contents and militant-centeredness of the programme, focus is limited to personal and group transformation. This is a great mistake that will, in the long run, bring a collapse of the peace process in the region. For a lasting peace in the region to be achieved, attention must also be paid to the transformation of contexts - political, legal, economic, and environmental, of the conflict. For it is only then that the potentials in the amnesty programme to achieve lasting post-conflict peace in the Niger Delta will be realized.

2.2 Conceptual Framework

2.2.1 The Concept of Amnesty

Amnesty is pardon extended by the government to a group of individuals usually for a political offense; it is the act of a sovereign power officially forgiving certain classes of people who have committed a criminal offense usually of a political nature that threatens the sovereignty of the government are granted immunity from prosecution (Gardne 2009; cited in Fage and Alabi 2017). Examples of such offences are treason and sedition. Amnesty has traditionally been used as a political tool of compromise and reunion following a war. An act of amnesty is generally granted to a group of people who have committed crimes against the state, such as treason, rebellion, or desertion from the military (Epiphany 2013).

Amnesty as a state strategy is deployed to contain centrifugal forces and maintain the corporate unity of the state in the face of seemingly intractable threats. The effectiveness of amnesty as a state strategy depends on two factors: one, an unimpeachable demonstration of the superiority of the fire power of the state; and two, the willingness of the intended beneficiaries to discontinue the criminal activities for which amnesty is contemplated. The objective of amnesty is not to punish but to choose a path that will yield the best possible scenario for the triumph of peace. Thus, amnesty emphasizes the supremacy and expediency of a conducive atmosphere promotive of public welfare than prosecution (Olatoke and Olokooba 2012:26).


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Amnesty and the Niger Delta Conflict. Effects and Solutions According to the Conflict Transformation Theory
University of Port Harcourt
Master's in Conflict and Security Studies
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amnesty, niger, delta, conflict, effects, solutions, according, transformation, theory
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Frank Adogbeji Enakemu (Author), 2021, Amnesty and the Niger Delta Conflict. Effects and Solutions According to the Conflict Transformation Theory, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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