Niger Delta militants steal crude oil to buy arms, recruit members, Bayelsa Governor says

Niger Delta militants

Oil theft and vandalism has been on the rise in the Niger Delta.

Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa has said that oil theft is a threat to national security and responsible for the proliferation of arms in the Niger Delta. He said militants who engage in oil theft use it to finance their operations, recruit members, and buy arms and ammunition.

Mr. Dickson said this in Yenagoa on Friday when he received the new Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Central Naval Command, Yenagoa, Rear Admiral Sidi-Ali Usman.

The governor expressed concern about the rising incidents and sophistication of illegal bunkering, sea piracy and pipeline vandalism and condemned the negative impact of the crimes on the nation’s economy. He said the criminals sustained their operations over the years through the proceeds from illegal bunkering activities.

”What is going on is more of a threat to national security than even the loss of revenue that everybody is shouting about,” Mr. Dickson said.

”Let me tell you that all the violence, brigandage and criminality that we experience in the Niger Delta states, particularly Bayelsa where I know more, have their roots in the activities in the creeks.

”It is from there they have easy funds to recruit followers; it is from these activities of crude oil theft and illegal refining that people are able to sustain such large numbers of youths and put them into various cult groups.

”What is going on has a direct effect on the proliferation of small and light weapons because they need an army of youths to protect their territories, to be able to withstand the onslaught of legitimate security personnel,” he added.

Oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism has been on the rise in the Niger Delta leading to huge loss of revenue by the Nigerian government. Oil majors in the region have shut down or threatened to shut down some of their operations because of the vandal’s activities. President Goodluck Jonathan has also set up a committee made up of some state governors and ministers to look for ways of solving the problem, which persists despite the hundreds of billions of naira spent by the government on the amnesty program for militants.

Mr. Dickson also warned cult members who rejected government’s plea to have a change of heart, as his administration would not hesitate to bring them to justice.

”For those who have defied the Cultism Proscription law, in spite of the olive branch we have put forward and arrangement for their renunciation and eventual integration, but still want to go ahead with cult activities, I am sounding a clear note of warning that this government will not succumb to blackmail or propaganda.

”This government will work with security agencies in this state to ensure that those who violate the laws of this state and country will be brought to book,” he said.

He called for maximum cooperation from the security operatives, especially the Nigerian Navy, to achieve the administration’s policy of zero tolerance for violence and criminality.

Mr. Dickson described the establishment of the Central Naval Command in the state as strategic, considering its maritime nature. He said the navy had a crucial role to play in policing the waterways.

While commending the former Flag Officer Commanding, Rear Admiral Olutoyin Johnson, for serving the state creditably, he assured his successor of government’s continuous support.

Mr. Usman, who assumed duties about three weeks ago, has already gone on a familiarisation tour of formations under his command.

He stressed the navy’s determination to combat oil theft and other criminal activities in line with the Federal Government’s mandate.

(NAN)


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  • akpos11

    What is wrong with the Freedom fighters of the Niger Delta selling the oil that belongs to them? …and they recruit new members & buy arms. So what? Should the Niger Delta fold its arms as Boko Haram & Hezbollah prepare for war? Nonsense. You people ain’t seen nothing. Nonsense.

    Its a very good thing that the oil of my SS&SE peoples is immobile & non transferable. The oil is not even in front of our houses but at our backyards & streams. Lets see how Boko Haram or any other set of idiots will come to our backyards & siphon our oil & leave us poor & our ecology decimated. We also thank God that the pipelines, oil blocks etc are all physical & not immune to dynamites. Na parable I speak so. Those who understand it can interpret it to others. Nonsense!

    Verily verily I say unto you, Nigeria is not a country but a continent. Break up NOW!!!
    Long live the United Republic of the oil producing SS&SE of continent Nigeria

  • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

    Yet, their bellies and those of their wives, children, parents and families remain empty and hungry.

    When it was the slave trade era, we accused the whiteman of selling alcohol and guns to us in exchange for other human beings!

    What is our excuse for putting the purchase of arms and ammunition before food and sustenance for our families. Dolts who proclaim and glorify wars are irresponsible people who will probably puke at the site of gore in an abattoir, talk less the carnage that war represents.

  • Mani_Kay

    You guys @Premium Times are really mischievous in your reports and desperate attempt to put down the the South South geo-political zone. The Governor never said such a thing. How can somebody steal something that belongs to him?