Here's hoping. As of today's reports,
Militant commanders Ateke Tom and Farah Dagogo, whose fighters have mounted many of the attacks on the oil industry in the eastern Niger Delta, led gunmen from their camps in the mangrove creeks of the Niger Delta to the oil hub of Port Harcourt.One more leader and his men should come in shortly. The numbers said to have disarmed are in the hundreds. However:
President Umaru Yar'Adua has offered all gunmen in the Niger Delta an unconditional pardon if they surrender their weapons by Sunday.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said on Thursday it had encouraged Tom, Dagogo and other commanders to step aside for the safety of their families.That's the kicker. If the main force doesn't abide by the amnesty, then this is mostly for show. The militant followers are not being detained or in any way prevented from going back into the bush under other leaders, either.
Government Tompolo, who commands thousands of fighters in the Niger Delta, is the last known militant commander with links to MEND that has yet to surrender.
I'd like to believe that this is a first step toward a regional peace. I will believe it when I see it happen.