The Abuja-based Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution facilitated the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme that ended persistent agitations by militants in the Niger Delta.
The Director-General of the institute, Dr. Bakut Bakut, made the announcement while speaking at a forum of the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Sunday.
He said the Federal Government had commissioned the institute to broker peace between the government and the militants to end the Niger Delta conflict over a decade ago.
The fighters, popularly known as Niger Delta militants, were fighting to have greater share of resources in the resource-rich Niger Delta in a bitter war that took hundreds of lives.
The militants had taken up arms against their country, destroying oil infrastructure, kidnapping oil workers and making life unbearable for residents of the Niger Delta, including seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea.
Bakut said: “Most Nigerians know that there was amnesty for Niger Delta militants but nobody will tell you that this institute is actually responsible for the idea of amnesty.
“In this same institute, we had some of the Niger Delta leaders — people like Ateke Tom and others.
“They actually came to this institute.
“We had negotiations with them and we were able to arrive at what has today become the amnesty programme.”
On August 6, 2009, former President Umaru Yar’Adua announced an amnesty deal for militants, making the fighters to bid farewell to arms and ending a low-level war that had cost Nigeria a third of its oil production.
Bakut said the significant role the institute had been playing in Nigeria had not been known fully or appreciated completely by Nigerians since the institute was established 21 years ago.
He said: “Within this period of 21 years, the institute has done a lot of analyses and researches as well as interventions, capacity building and policy advice to government.
“We have done a lot of work with regard to the Niger Delta issue.”
The Director-General noted that the institute had also facilitated and ensured that the right to vote of Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria’s war-ravaged North East was not lost as the IDPs were able to cast their votes in the 2015 general elections.
Bakut disclosed that the task of making it possible for the IDPs to vote was the outcome of the collaboration of the institute with the Independent National Electoral Commission.
He said: “Also, on the issue of Boko Haram in 2015, there was the problem of whether the IDPs would be allowed to participate in the elections.
“Again, it was the IPCR that had to go to INEC to present a position paper to them and say this is what has to be done.
“The institute was thereafter, able to persuade INEC to get IDPs to vote in 2015.
“In the area of the armed forces absorbing the civilian Joint Task Force, again it was the institute that made it possible in furtherance of our policy.
“After Boko Haram what next?
“That suggested that rather than letting the JTF go, they should be given the opportunity to join the Armed Forces so that they would not become our problem later.”
Bakut said that the IPCR had been doing a lot toward ensuring that banditry and killing of farmers by herdsmen were stamped out in the country.