Leaders of oil-bearing communities, under the aegis of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSCON), yesterday, said they have pulled out of the ceasefire agreement and peace accord entered into with youths and militants in the Niger Delta.
This is coming on the heels of a threat by militant groups from nine states of the Niger Delta region, which vowed to resume hostilities, in support of the #EndSARS protests and neglect of the region by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.
The militants had also given multinational oil companies (IOCs) operating in the region an ultimatum to evacuate their staff to avoid human causalities.
The latest ceasefire agreement and peace accord were entered into with the militants in 2016, after several months of hostilities by the militants, which destroyed oil facilities, disrupted Nigeria’s oil production and contributed to pushing the economy into recession.
The ceasefire brought peace to the region, and buoyed Nigeria’s crude oil output.
In an interview with newsmen in Abuja, the National Chairman of HOSCON, Prince Mike Emuh, disclosed that the lives of HOSCON leaders were under threat, as four years after the ceasefire deal, majority of the issues in the agreement with the Federal Government on behalf of the militants were yet to be fulfilled.
However, he called on the youths of the Niger Delta to give peace a chance, stating that the leadership of HOSCON was meeting with some officials and aides of Buhari on how to assuage the militants and map out ways on how to avert any impending crisis.
He said, “We, the leaders of HOSCON, want to hands off the ceasefire, the peace accord that we entered into with the youths of the Niger Delta. This is because it is now a threat to us, their parents, as it is now seen that we are not allowing them to strike; yet, they are not getting jobs and are not getting anything from the crude oil and gas exploited from their communities.
“They say we have always been pleading with them not to resume hostilities, yet, there are no results from the assurances they had been given that made them to embrace the peace accord and ceasefire in the first instance. Our lives are being threatened; hence, we are resigning from mediating, either in the Amnesty programme, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) or Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.”
He said the Federal Government had approved the four-point agenda put forward by HOSCON, yet, nothing had been done in the area of implementation of the agreement, especially, as it seems that the deal had been jettisoned.
“The South-South geo-political zone is today, totally neglected in the area of agricultural interventions, while other regions of the country had been given billions of Naira.
“We want to meet with delegates of the Federal Government to let them know that danger is lurking; hence we are calling on the government to make haste and engage, and meet the demands of the oil-bearing communities,” Emuh explained.
To avert the impending hostilities, he stated that the government should immediately meet the demands of the militants, especially the ones similar to the demands HOSCON had presented to the Federal Government.
Some of the demands, according to him, which comprise the four-point demand of HOSCON, include, release of the gas flare penalty money to the host communities; release of the 13 per cent derivation allocation directly to the oil-producing communities; award of the pipeline surveillance contracts to 10,000 youths in the host communities; and waivers for 10 modular refineries’ licenses for the host communities.
He stated that years after the four-point agenda was presented to the Federal Government, nothing had been done, while he cautioned the government against politicizing the demands of the region’s youths and the militants.
The HOSCON chairman said: “It is paramount that the Federal Government should dialogue with oil-producing communities. The issue of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline, traversing majority of the northern states; where are they bringing the gas from? Is it from Borno? Is it not from Niger Delta states? Yet, those states and the communities where the oil and gas are produced from are neglected.
“The region accounts for about 95 per cent of Nigeria’s revenue; yet, we are neglected, and have no say in decision-making in this country”, he complained.
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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