Nigeria: Efforts Underway To Prevent Terrorism
By Akanimo Sampson - Port Harcourt,Nigeria
SECURITY Chiefs in the Niger Delta area, Nigeria’s rich oil and gas province, have started to discuss a broad-based approach to security in the region with a bid to prevent armed groups or terrorist cells from disrupting oil production.
While in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital last week, President Olusegun Obasanjo, it was gathered, directed all the security agencies operating in the Niger Delta to keep a wary eye on threats from “rascals”, a presidential euphemism for armed groups.
Security agencies in the region are being enjoined to cooperate more with a view to crushing the terrorist cells believed to be determined to sabotage the country’s economy. The trouble makers are alleged to be targeting the oil industry.
At a stakeholders meeting at the Government House, Port Harcourt, the previous Tuesday, President Obasanjo gave armed cult and militia groups still in possession of illegal arms up to the end of this month, to surrender them or be prepared for some very unpleasant consequences.
Although President Obasanjo did not mention names, some top government functionaries told SCOOP that the president many be referring to Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), militia group, who allegedly boasted that they still have arms and ammunition worth N1.00 billion. Even though he has not denied this, Dokubo-Asari claimed that disarmament is a gradual process.
His rival, Mr. Ateke Tom, Chairman of the Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV), claimed in a telephone interview that he was not affected by President Obasanjo’s December ending deadline. According to him, “we have since surrendered all our weapons.”
“We have given government our words that we will cooperate to provide secure operating environment for the oil industry”, he added.
In the meantime, security experts have counselled government against militarization or the security approach, claiming that lasting peace in the oil region cannot be achieved through the approach.
Earlier, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Alexander Ogomudia, had in a top level security report recommended two ways to tackle the problems in the Niger Delta. The report claimed that the first approach was the development of infrastructure, such as roads, housing, electricity, water, employment generation and economic empowerment of the peoples of the region.
According to the security chiefs, this approach once initiated, would make it easy for the implementation of the second one, which is effective enforcement of law and order.