By Dayo Johnson
GOVERNOR Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State said Wednesday that the Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government has reduced drastically illegal bunkering and economic sabotage in the Niger Delta.
He said this when the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ola Ibrahim led a team of Naval Chiefs on a visit to him in Akure. He was in the state to inspect ships under his Command.
The governor who commended the Federal Government for the programme, therefore charged the Nigerian Navy to consolidate on the gains of the Amnesty Programme by making the Niger Delta Waterways free of criminal activities.
He pointed out that the presence of the Forward Operations Base, FOB, at Igbokoda in Ilaje Local Government area of the state was highly appreciated by the state government as an additional potent means of securing lives and property in the area.
According to him, â€œthe establishment of the FOB would also serve as a deterrent to would be criminals in our waterways. It will no doubt have positive effects on securing the strategic oil and gas business in the Niger Delta region.”
Mimiko, however, assured that the state government would collaborate with the Western Naval Command in the collective efforts to make the waterways in the state crime free.
Speaking earlier, Rear Admiral Ibrahim eulogized the state government for its assistance and cordial relationship with the Nigerian Navy, as well as making the environment conducive for naval operations.
Ibrahim explained that the conception of the FOB was essentially to shorten reaction time within crisis period in the area of operations.
According to him â€œThere is direct relationship between oil theft and small arms proliferation. This is a big problem which had resulted in loss of materials and men by the Western Naval Command.”
Mimiko noted that â€œwith the appropriate protection of the waterways and economic activities taking place there, the country will be better for it.”