7,000 Militants To Lay Down Arms Today
• As Fears Of Further Pipeline Vandalisation Rise
NO fewer than 7,000 militants from Akwa Ibom State are expected to lay down their arms in the state today, even as fears mount about further vandalisation of oil pipelines in the region. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru, who sought to dissociate ex-agitators from the recent oil pipeline vandalisation in the region, explained that the youths have been responsible for the protection of the pipelines so far; and that because they are willing to maintain peace in the area, about 7,000 of them have agreed to submit their weapons to the government today.
The minister, who was spoke against the backdrop of the inter-agency meeting he had earlier held with various agencies in the region yesterday, said the focus of the meeting was to find a solution to the recent renewed challenge of pipeline vandalisation.
“The attention is not on the ex-agitators because they have been securing the pipelines. Tomorrow (today), about 7,000 of them will be surrendering their weapons in Akwa Ibom State”, he said, adding that although the effect of the recent vandalisation would linger for a while, repairs will be fast.
The inter-agency meeting included leaders of the ministry, Amnesty office, NDDC, the Navy, Civil Defence Corps, NNPC, the Ministry of Defence, the Directorate of State Security, and the Ministries of Interior and Information. Representative of the NNPC, while speaking on the effect of the recent pipeline vandalisation on the nation, said already, the Kaduna Refinery is down because the supply line from Escravos has been vandalized.
“We fear Warri may also be down soon because of same reason of vandalisation. Port Harcourt is not affected by vandalisation but it’s down because the supply line from Bonny to Okrika is down and we are working to get it running in a few days”, he said.
Allaying fears of possible return to the creeks by the Niger Delta youths, Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, Brigadier General Paul Boroh said: “The Amnesty programme is on course and ex-agitators have dissociated themselves from the act. The Amnesty office condemns the act in strong terms and we will work with security agencies to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to justice in order to prevent recurrence”, he said.
Pastor Uguru noted that the stakeholders in the Niger Delta region will not fold their arms and watch the sovereignty of Nigeria threatened. He added that power generation has been threatened since the vandalisation of the oil pipelines in Gbaramatu kingdom last weekend.
On environmental pollution, he stated that his ministry, the Ministry of Budget and Planning as well as two other agencies are currently working on how to clean up the whole region rather than just Ogoniland which was recommended for clean up by the UNEP report of 2011.
He however, added that while the federal government is making efforts to clean up the area, those vandalizing oil pipelines should see reason and stop the act so that government resources will not be continually wasted on clean up exercises.