Fight against oil theft fails because of military involvement, Wike alleges
..says tussle on VAT will prove if Nigeria respects rule of law
Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has alleged that the fight to stop oil theft has continued to fail because top-ranking officers of the military are involved in it.
Wike stated this when he hosted the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Isiaka Oladayo Amao, on a courtesy visit to Government House, Port Harcourt, on Monday.
In a statement by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, Wike noted that it was not only the wastage of the economy that was involved but also the degradation of the environment.
He said: “You know this bunkering cannot stop; let’s be serious about it, everybody is involved. The military is involved. Police are involved. The Nigeria Civil Defence Corps is involved. If not, there is no way bunkering can continue. It’s a terrible thing.
“I don’t know, whether we should take the issue of bunkering to even be more serious than treason. If you go around and see what has happened to our environment, you’ll have pity on us.”
Wike also urged members of the military task force deployed to arrest illegal oil bunkers to find an environmentally-friendly way to destroy bunkering sites in the state.
He said when they blow up and set those sites on fire, they increase soot in the atmosphere that has become another grave environmental concern in Rivers State.
In his response, Amao said he was on an operational visit to 115 Special Operation Group in Rivers State and decided to pay a courtesy visit to the governor, who has contributed immensely to the functioning of their base in Port Harcourt.
He thanked the governor for financial support to families of officers that died in active service.
MEANWHILE, Wike has said the historic legal battle between Rivers State Government and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) with respect to Value Added Tax (VAT), will demonstrate whether the country respects the rule of law or not.
The governor said the decision of the State government to seek judicial interpretation on VAT collection, is aimed at strengthening rule of law and Nigeria’s democracy.
He stated this when the Managing Director of BusinessDay newspaper, Dr. Ogho Okiti, led a delegation to present a letter of nomination to him as the “BusinessDay Most Impactful Governor Award” at Government House, Port Harcourt on Monday.
He said: “I am happy today that the Attorney General (of the Federation) has gone to the Supreme Court to sue Rivers State Government over VAT. Now, that Attorney General has gone to court, we are happy. But, nobody wants to talk about him dividing the country. It is only when Rivers State Government goes to court that they will say we want to divide the country.
“There is nothing wrong in interpreting the law. The judiciary has been given assignment and they took the oath of office to interpret the law. If we don’t go to court, how will we know the position of the law? How will democracy thrive? How will we know that this country respects rule of law?”