Over 557 youths, who renounced cultism, in Bodo and other communities in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State have surrendered their weapons to the police.
The submission of various arms and ammunition marked the end of a disarmament programme that started on December 3, 2020.
State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, explained that the arms mop up was done in partnership with other security agencies.
He said a system had been set up to monitor the repentant cultists despite their decisions to submit their weapons.
He said, “It was a collective retrieval of arms and ammunition comprising the police and the army. We are trying to see if they genuinely repented so that we see how they can be rehabilitated and possibly we will appeal to the government to give them pardon so that they can go back into the mainstream of society.
“But first of all, we just have to monitor them t be sure that actually, they have repented. We urge the youths to resist any temptation of returning to their old ways or be ready to face the law”.
In his remarks, the facilitator of the programme, Rev. Father Abel Abulu, harped on the need to take repentant youths through spiritual exercise as a post-disarmament programme.
He regretted that the Bodo community was a flashpoint of violence, explaining that the youths were exposed to non-violence programmes to help reshape their minds and thinking.
The cleric noted that cultism became prevalent in the area after the last general elections and expressed happiness that the youths realized the need to change their ways and embrace peace.
“The flashpoint of the violence seems to be here in Bodo. But it came to a point when they said indeed we have sinned in our communities, and please forgive us so that we can come back home. That whole picture of Christ model of reconciliation is the message that this exercise espouses and that is what we have done,” he said.