By Kingsley Omonobi
ABUJA – The federal government said at the weekend that Amnesty for militants or not, it has directed security operatives to go after illegal oil bunkerers, their Nigerian collaborators who are some misguided youths from the region and their foreign sponsors/collaborators with a determination to end the problems affecting crude oil production and export.
Minister of Defence, Major General Godwin Abbe who made the disclosure weekend at the National Defence College, Abuja, emphasized that these big guns behind oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region, were not invisible and that their activities if not checked now, could spell doom for the nation’s quest of bringing lasting normalcy to the region.
Towards this end, the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta and the Nigerian Navy have been given the all clear to comb the area for known and unknown perpetrators of the crime which is considered as economic sabotage against the nation.
Reiterating the commitment of government to the amnesty package proclaimed by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to participants of Course 18 of the NDC, the minister said the primary aim of the amnesty was targetted at bringing lasting peace in the troubled area, vowing that those behind illegal oil bunkering in the region, which has been traced to as a source of finance for the troublemakers in nthe area, would soon be named and shamed as well as declared enemies of the state.
â€œEfforts are on to identify those behind oil bunkering and when caught, they are going to be treated as enemies of the state. In the same vein, international assessors who think that our exclusive economic zone is free for them to continue their nefarious activities of illegal bunkering, piracy and smuggling will soon learn bitter lessonâ€, the minister vowed.
Regarding the transformation of the Armed Forces, Genâ€™ Abbe said there was urgent need to close the gaps created in organizational structure, recruitment, training and welfare of members of the military, if the total transformation is to be achieved.
According to the minister,”for optimal operational efficiency and service delivery to be achieved, concerted efforts must be made to improve on the welfare of members of the Armed Forces”, describing them as the â€œdependable stanchion upon which our democratic culture will grow and blossomâ€.
Earlier in his address, Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Admiral John Jonah said that the curriculum of the College had been strengthened to meet the United Nations approved module as well as the expectation of ECOWAS as one of UN Peacekeeping’s training Centre of Excellence pointing out that the 126 particpants are drawn from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air force, Nigeria Police, civilian and eight foreign participants from Lesotho, Cameroon, Niger, Ghana, Chad, Zambia, Togo and Sierra Leone.