Avengers: FG At Crossroads, Summons Security Chiefs, Govs | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Avengers: FG At Crossroads, Summons Security Chiefs, Govs

Niger Delta Avengers
Posted: Jun 8, 2016 at 4:35 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Says Military To Remain On Niger Delta Waterways



ABUJA – Threats and renewed wave of attacks on oil installations by militant groups in the Niger Delta region have placed the Federal Government on edge, prompting it to summon top security chiefs and governors of the region to an emergency meeting at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday.

Government fears may have been spurred by recent threats by the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force (JNDLF), which issued a statement earlier on Monday, threatening to shut down Nigerian Communication Satellite Orbit so that it could launch missiles without electronic radiation to hurt human lives.

The militants stated that they would then proceed to launch some missiles targeted at destroying key buildings like the Presidential Villa, National Assembly, Defence Headquarters and other public infrastructure.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presided over the meeting, which did not produce any concrete decision on how to tackle the menace currently being constituted by the militants.

Osinbajo stood in for President Muhammadu Buhari who is away on a trip to London to seek medical help over his ear infection.

The meeting, which held behind closed doors, started about 10a.m at the VP’s wing inside the Presidential Villa.

Those in attendance included Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers; Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State; Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta; Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo; Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, and Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State.

Top security chiefs at the meeting were Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, was also in attendance.

Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, addressed State House correspondents shortly after the meeting which ended at 2:55p.m.

“We governors of the oil producing states, security chiefs and ministers who are concerned met with the vice president and we had a very fruitful meeting.

“We have taken a lot of decisions which will help us mitigate what is going on currently in the states, particularly Bayelsa and Delta.

“One thing we identified is the need for synergy between the Federal Government and the state governments, which is very important and this meeting 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 Resources.

“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 distill military operations by helping communities where 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 will start any moment from now”, Okowa noted.

Asked if the amnesty programme initiated by the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration and continued by Goodluck Jonathan will be revisited, he said, “I don’t think the amnesty programme has been put to a stop. I think the process is still ongoing.

“We have a Special Adviser in charge of amnesty and he 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.”

Although Okowa did not disclose in details the outcome of the meeting, he said the implementation process would begin immediately.

“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,” Okowa said.

Government whose budget implementation is predicated on earnings from oil allegedly loses over N1.3 billion daily to these attacks perpetrated by the Niger Delta Avengers.

Two oil firms operating in the region, Eni and Aiteo, which have their oilfields in Bayelsa also put their daily loses at 140,000 barrels of crude due to the recent attacks by the militants.

The two firms also estimate that $6.72 million (N1.3 billion) goes down the drain due to the attacks.

Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, corroborated Okowa’s comments, saying they all agreed to refocus on development issues, economic, military and community issues affecting the people of the Niger Delta region.

“We agreed that we all have to work together to refocus on development issues, economic issues, military issues and community issues.

“Whatever Okowa told you that is what we have agreed to do.

“On the amnesty programme, you know there was a little transition because we have a new leadership and there is always a time lag.

“In principle the programme is still on. There are stories about non-payment and those problems are being addressed, funds are being provided. I believe the government recognises 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.

“Fortunately for the people to be able to apply these skills they have acquired in the course of the amnesty training, they need an environment that is investment friendly”.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari recently had closed door meetings with ex-Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo where far reaching decisions on how to stem the militants’ crisis was ostensibly taken.