By Festus Fifen.
The President Amnesty Office has said that the books of their activities are open for those who are in doubt of its level of transparency in dealings over the years.
In a statement signed by the head of media and publicity in the Office Owei Lakemfa in response to some group demanding probe of its activities, the presidential amnesty office stated that as a public institution the office is answerable to the public and anyone who is interested in the activities of the amnesty Programme.
The statement which read in parts says ” The attention of the Presidential Amnesty Office has been drawn to a faceless group demanding a probe of its activities. As a public institution answerable to the public, the Office is obliged to give account of its activities. So in itself, there is nothing wrong with a probe . Also, a probe does not mean guilt; it is merely an inquiry to find out if any infraction has been committed. It is like a man under-going routine medical checkup which does not necessarily mean he is sick.
” However, the Presidential Amnesty Office objects to the group’s follow up blackmail of the supervising officers, the leadership of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and their families. If in truth this group wants a probe, it ordinarily would wait for the response of the authorities it has petitioned and the outcome of the probe. To proceed to call for so-called protests in and outside the country until the leadership of the Presidential Amnesty Programme is replaced, is to pronounce guilt even before any investigation is carried out or the officials are given any chance to respond to the load of unsubstantiated claims. This is against the laws of natural justice, our national and international laws and ethics which give every human being the fundamental right to defend himself before a competent authority or court of law.” The statement said
The statement further added that the conduct and activities of these group in recent times exposes the under belly of the probe demand as being far from altruistic; describing it is an indication that a hatchet job is under way..
” Unfortunately, there is a growing culture of some persons mainly from the South -South of the country plying on blackmail to get by or get contracts; this will not work with the Presidential Amnesty Programme. It is no more business as usual.Also, despite the blackmail, the Office stands by its decision that those on the Amnesty scholarship in tertiary institutions would not be entitled to be paid stipends along with their monthly In-Training-Allowance as this amounts to double payment.”
“The Presidential Amnesty Programme is a professional and security interventionist agency designed to bring peace , stability and development to the Niger Delta and has so far succeeded in its primary mandate; it is therefore unpatriotic to seek to politicize it.”