- US Govt worried over Niger Delta violence
Worried by the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo held a meeting with governors from the Niger Delta region and the service chiefs yesterday in Abuja.
Nigerian Pilot gathered that the meeting, which took place at the Conference Hall of the acting president’s office in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, aimed at finding a lasting solution to the renewed threat to national peace as well as militants’ activities in the Niger Delta region.
The meeting had in attendance the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru, who joined the governors of Rivers, Bayelsa, Ondo, Delta, Edo and Abia States.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting, governor of Delta and Edo State, Ifeanyi Okowa and Adams Oshiomhole said both parties agreed to work together to ensure peace and end the bombings of oil and power installations in the region, and that the collaboration would also include intelligence sharing.
The meeting also agreed that there should be deployment of military operations only in waterways around troubled communities.
He said: “We governors of the oil producing states, security chiefs and ministers who are concerned met with the vice president and I believe we had a very fruitful meeting. One thing we identified which is the synergy between the federal government and the states which is very important and this meeting has raised a lot of issues; and we believe that the collaboration will help us to tackle the issues in the Niger Delta.
“Of course we were briefed by the service chiefs, and the governors also have their own perspectives along with the Minister of State (for) Petroleum. We have taken a lot of decisions which will help us mitigate what is going on currently in the states, particularly Bayelsa and Delta,” he said.
The governor added: “We believe we are going to find solution to it. One of such is that there is a need for us to share intelligence which is very important and for us to be proactive, working together with the various stakeholders in the states to achieve a better result going forward.
“We have also agreed that there is a need to distil military operations directly in communities, but the military needs to actually remain on our waterways to ensure that we adequately man the waterways itself while we engage the communities; and that engagement process is starting any moment from now,” he stated
He added: “I think the process is still ongoing; we have a special adviser in charge of amnesty and it is doing very well. I am aware that he did come in to talk with some of the communities and along with the advocacy team that was put up in Delta State. He did brief us today and I believe it is going to be maintained.
“Right from today, there is a meeting right after this and we are going to be collaborating even as we return to our various states.”
Oshiomhole continued: “You have been briefed by my brother from Delta and whatever he told you, that is the truth of it. We agreed that we all have to work together to refocus on development issues, economic issues, military issues and community issues. Whatever he has told you there, that is what we have agreed to do.
“I believe the government recognizes that the amnesty programme has to be sustained but also we can improve on it because we have trained people. People have been sent for training and they have come back and they should be able to apply those skills. If they don’t apply the skills they become skilled but then unemployed, then the problem persists.
“We need multiple tools to deal with the issues. Fortunately, for the people to be able to apply the skills that they acquired in the course of the amnesty training, they need an environment that is investment-friendly because unless, for example, if you have skills in underwater welding, you need the oil companies to be doing business to recruit people like that to carry out those kinds of special skills.
“If you have skill in all sorts of things without economic activity, you cannot deploy your skills. One thing leads to the other. In the first instance, the man has no skill; the first challenge is to give him skill.
“What Okowa said was the correct representation of what transpired at the meeting. If we have conflicts, we will talk through those conflicts. There are laws that have to be enforced. I think that in all of these the whole idea is to find peace that is functional, that creates environment for very decent Nigerians to live their lives,” observed.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy said it had apprehended the coordinator of series of attacks on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and Chevron oil and gas facilities in Delta.
The commander, NNS Delta, Commodore Raimi Mohammed disclosed this to newsmen at the Warri Naval Base, adding that the suspect was apprehended on June 2.
Mohammed, who presented the suspect alongside others allegedly involved in the act of vandalism and criminal activities in the maritime sector, described the arrest as a major breakthrough.
He, however, said the identity of the suspect would not be disclosed now.
“I am pleased to announce that after several weeks of persistent effort, the Nigerian Navy in collaboration with other security agencies has arrested the main coordinator of attacks on NNPC and Chevron oil and gas facilities.
“The attacks were the bombing we witnessed since May 4 with the attack on Chevron Okan valve platform offshore in Escravos in Warri South-West. We have recovered some Improvised Explosive Devices, IED, for blowing up and vandalising pipelines. We have decided not to give out the name of the suspect because he is helping us with useful information that could lead to the arrest of others,” Mohammed said.
The commander said the suspect was deeply involved in pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft, saying that his arrest came after several weeks of trailing and arrest of some of his foot-soldiers.
“The suspect has stolen crude oil from about 35 abandoned oil well heads and crude oil pipelines in Okpoko and Obodo in Warri South-West Local Government Area,” he said.
Mohammed also said that the navy had apprehended another suspect identified as Michael John, who allegedly murdered three soldiers in Jones creek and one soldier and a policeman in Batan community.
“The suspect has confessed to the crime,” he said.
The commander also said that another suspect was being quizzed for alleged involvement in the June 3 attack on the 48 inches crude oil pipeline in Forcados oil terminal.
The crude oil pipeline is operated by Shell Petroleum and Development Company, SPDC, at Ogulagha in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta.
He said the suspect had provided useful information that would facilitate the arrest of the other culprits by the command.
While commending the Delta State government for its cooperation, Mohammed assured that the navy would continue to protect the nation’s territorial waterways.
Items recovered from the suspects included rolls of cables, two car batteries, three shovels, hammers, saw, suspected dynamites, cutlass, among others.
US government worried
Meanwhile, the United States government through its mission house in Nigeria, yesterday also expressed worry over the increasing spate of violence and the use of explosions on pipelines and gas installations in the Niger Delta region
Although it praised the efforts of the government in engaging the militants, the US government asked that the human rights of all Nigerians must be protected.
In a statement yesterday, the US Mission to Nigeria said it also shared the concerns of all Nigerians, adding that while the Americans remained supportive of efforts at dialogue, the rights of all Nigerians must be protected.
The statement read: “The U.S Mission to Nigeria is monitoring reports of attacks and other incidents in the Niger Delta. We share the concerns of all Nigerians about these attacks.
“Furthermore, the United States remains supportive of efforts, including the promotion of dialogue, to address grievances in the Niger Delta.
“We encourage all parties to resolve their disputes through peaceful means and emphasise that human rights of all Nigerians must be protected.”