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Govt should be alive to its responsibility – Sen Abaribe

By CHIDI NKWOPARA
Some of the bombs were removed from the senatorial zone of  SENATOR ENYINNAYA ABARIBE In this interview he said that he is not happy that the explosives can still be exhumed years after the civil war.

What is your view on the reported threat by the Humanitarian Demining group to pullout from the project sites
I must tell you that I am very worried about it and I am very disturbed that efforts that have been made to remove all these very dangerous explosives within our vicinities, in our communities, are  coming to nought now due to the negligence or due to the nonchalance of the relevant authorities concerned.

Honestly, every patriotic Nigerian, not just those from the South East, ought to be worried about matters of this nature.

The 30-month old civil war ended in 1970. Is it not sad that government is yet to eliminate these mines and explosives in our communities

You are right. The civil war ended close to 40 years ago and it is sad to realize that we still have landmines, explosives, and all manner of bombs still littering the landscapes in the whole of the South East. The matter is made worse now, not just for the fact that these explosives are there but the fact that even the ones that have been recovered have not been moved out and destroyed.

They have just been piled out somewhere and due to lack of funds now, we are hearing that the agency responsible for taking care of them decided to abandon them there. These things pose very grave danger to the communities.

What is the situation in your   local council area

My local government area is one of these endangered communities because some of these things have been recovered at the border region between my local council area, Obingwa Local Government Area in Abia South Senatorial District and a local government adjoining it in Akwa Ibom State. These were areas we rightly call the theatres of war. And people who go to farm in those places and people who pass through there are subject to unwitting danger.

Where do we go from here

I will urge the federal government that initially set up the unit to go and diffuse these bombs and take them away all over Nigeria, to be more alive to its responsibility. The instruction was given by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and I wish and hope that he would also follow up, to make sure that his instructions were being carried to the letter.

The Ministry of Defence has the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of Nigerians with regard to things called armaments, bombs, explosives and so on. I think that the Ministry of Defence has the bounding duty and responsibility to ensure that these stockpiles of explosives are properly taken care of.

I will also urge the de mining group that has now threatened to pull out to exercise a little more patience and continue with their duties while we all appeal to the responsible authorities that are supposed to pay them to hasten up with their payments.

It is a very, very serious situation here. I also urge the South East governors and I think the South South governors, in whose dormain these bombs are, to come together and help to persuade whatever authorities holding up the payment for this humanitarian job to go ahead and release the funds.

But these explosives can get into the hands of bad people if not properly disposed.

You are right. Now that we have been able, by the grace of God, to get the militants within the South East and South South Regions to lay down their arms, I don’t think that it is in anybody’s interest to have this type of stockpiles littering our landscape because they could also be used by unscrupulous elements to further destabilize the region.


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