The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), has urged repentant cultists in the Niger Delta region to resist the temptation of returning to their past lifestyles.
He also advised the people to stop stigmatising ex-cultists to enable them to integrate properly in the society.
Dikio, spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at the weekend, during the graduation of 12 repentant cultists from the Youth Rescue International Development Organization (YRIDO).
YRIDO is the brainchild of Nature Dumale, an ex-agitator and Chairman of PAP’s Strategic Communications Committee (SCC).
Dikio, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Projects, Godwin Ekpo, said PAP would work with YRIDO to ensure total integration of the repentant cultists.
Describing YRIDO as a wonderful initiative, Dikio said he was impressed by the transformational power of the programme following the confessional statements of the beneficiaries.
He said, “I want to thank God for your lives and for Pastor Nature Dumale, who himself is a story of inspiration. And I’m hoping that as you leave here today you’ll carry your story to the nooks and crannies of the Niger Delta region and influence several others who would have ordinarily been lost but for the love of Christ.
“So my charge to you is that as you go, you’ll spread the light, your future is very bright. The thing about life in Christ is that it is redemption, all your sins are washed away, past, present and future. So go out there and face the world confidently, with the assurance that you will make it. I wish you all the best in life and I pray for you.
“I thank Pastor Nature again for putting this wonderful programme together. We in the Amnesty programme are very excited about partnering with Pastor Nature to advance what he has started and hopefully cause it to touch a wider part of our country and beyond”.
In his remarks, the Rivers State Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Usman Ali Wada, who spoke through the Assistant State Commander, Administration and Logistics, Uduak Godwin, said cultism and drug addiction were twin societal ills that must be avoided, especially by youths.
While congratulating the graduands, the NDLEA commander pledged the support and partnership of the agency with YRIDO in the fight against drug abuse.
On his part, Nature Dumale, the Executive Director of YRIDO, said he was motivated by God after he renounced cultism, militancy and other violent crimes to change others still involved in criminality using his experience as a source of inspiration.
He said in the past 10 years, YRIDO had been graduating over 20 youths annually from its six-month discipleship and rehabilitation orientation programme in Jos, Plateau State and Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Some of the repentant cultists, in their testimonies, said they had no regrets leaving cultism, adding that since they chose a new path, they were at peace with themselves promising never to go back to their old ways.
The event had in attendance dignitaries, including a former Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Major Lancelot Anyanya (rtd), members of the academia and religious leaders, among others.