The governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, and foremost Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, at the weekend held a meeting to discuss the worsening security situation in the Niger Delta region.
The meeting followed a recent threat by the Niger Delta Avengers to resume attacks on oil installations in the region.
Dickson said shortly after the meeting that the deliberations focused on how steps could be taken to establish contact with the federal government on the one hand and the aggrieved youths on the other as part of the efforts to prevent a major crisis in the area.
In a press statement signed by his special adviser, Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, the governor stated that the meeting also condemned the disruption the fourth quarter general meeting of the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum by security operatives in Port Harcourt on October 26, 2017.
The statement quoted the governor as having said that the meeting called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disruption of the PANDEF’s meeting in Port Harcourt.
Governor Dickson and Clark condemned the action of the security agencies and argued that PANDEF, like other organisations, had the right, as provided for in law, hold its meetings.
He also called on the agencies responsible for the disruption of the meeting to tender an apology to the elders.
Recalls that men of the Nigeria Police had taken over the Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, venue of a meeting of PANDEF led by Chief Clark on October 26, 2017.
No reason was given by the security agencies for the disruption of the PANDEF meeting.
Meanwhile, in a bid to further boost security in the Niger Delta, the Chief of Defence Staff, (CDS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, yesterday commissioned 20 gunboats.
At the occasion in Warri, Olonisakin said the recent threat by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to resume hostilities in the region was a sad commentary on the collective security of the environment.
He expressed regret at the continued threat of violence, noting that the Avengers’ threat had dealt an unfortunate blow to the collective well-being of the oil-rich region.
The army chief said that the new boats would help boost the Navy’s operational capacity, especially in the effort to stamp out various threats prevalent in the maritime environment.
While acknowledging the right of people to agitation, Olonisakin said any agitation associated with violence was unconstitutional and would be firmly dealt with by the armed forces.
“There has been continuing militarisation and proliferation of weapons among militant groups in the Niger Delta. This has ended up in a sharp increase in the threat level in the region.
“The inauguration of these platforms today is in line with the programme of general preparedness, which the Nigerian Navy has continued to maintain as an effective deterrent and good operational posture.
“It has pursued this by generating adequate maritime leverage domain awareness,’’ he said.
Olonisakin commended the Navy for patronising indigenous companies by contracting them to construct 16 of the gunboats.