..Urges Buhari to dialogue with militants
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright had assured Nigerians of United Kingdom’s commitment towards repatriating the country’s looted funds.
Arkwright, who spoke in an interview with reporters in Abeokuta, Ogun State, yesterday, said the British government would do everything to return stolen money domiciled in his country.
The diplomat was in the state on an official visit to Governor Ibikunle Amosun, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo.
He observed that Buhari had had meaningful discussion with the UK prime minister, David Cameron, during a recent anti-corruption summit in London.
He said, “The United Kingdom is doing everything that we can to ensure that those funds are returned to Nigeria. We have no intention of keeping that money. We want it to go back to Nigeria.”
It would be recalled that Cameron recently came under attack for referring to Nigeria as one of the “fantastically corrupt” nations in the world.
President Buhari, who was asked whether to seek for apology from the prime ministerm said he was interested in British government returning looted funds domiciled in the country instead of apology.
On the Niger Delta agitation, the envoy urged the federal government to engage in dialogue with militants rather than resorting to military force.
According to him, a comprehensive approach is needed by the Buhari administration to address agitation in the area.
Arkwright explained that the comprehensive approach would include dialogue with restive youths and clean-up of communities damaged by oil exploration.
He noted that with adequate engagement of stakeholders, various investments and business interests in the affected areas would be well secured.
He added that the British government was already engaging in talks with the Nigerian authorities on the way out of the current agitation.
“One thing I’ve said in the past and we have spoken to the Nigerian government about this, is that you need to have what we call a comprehensive approach to these issues.
“In other words, you need to have dialogue; you need to engage with the communities down there; you need to understand the grievances of the people down there; you need to ensure that the environmental damage which is being done is cleaned up and you need to protect the investments of not just British companies or international companies but Nigerian companies as well.
“Where there are criminal activities, it’s right that the government should take firm action against criminal activities. We strongly support that. But we don’t think that military solution alone is the only way to handle the issues around militancy in the Niger-Delta; in the same way that we don’t think that military solution alone is the way to handle the Boko Haram terrorists threat to the North-East.
“We are certainly looking for what we can do to help encourage dialogue and bring a peaceful outcome to what is an economic threat to this country.”