By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor South-South
FORMER Commissioner in Delta State and Itsekri ethnic nationality leader, Mr. Omolubi Newuwumi, has said there was no rule of law in Niger Delta and government has not really shown interest in deploying police officers to the creeks to protect people.
Newuwumi, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard in an interview, said:”I have critically looked into the problem in the Niger Delta and place it on two things. One, there is no rule of law in place and secondly, there is insecurity of lives and properties .”
He said” “The people of Niger Delta region have been living together without the enforcement of the rule of law by the government and this is because they did not send policemen to this area to enforce law and order in the region.”
Speaking on why he described Niger Delta as an uncontrolled region, he said: “Let me tell you a short story, I was once in the Nigeria Boys Scout, when I was in primary school I joined the scout just in order to enforce discipline on myself and to be a law- abiding citizen. As a scout at that time, we carry out arrest concerning criminal matters.”
“The Boys Scout and Boys Brigade as at then were like the Police and the Man o War was like the Army known by the people. Today, an army general cannot arrest a common criminal in the same region. What has led to this? Permit me to use this saying by the English man, ‘if it is not a treasure, it cannot be found, if it is not gold, it cannot be seen’”.
“What do I mean by this? I mean that the government and the white men have found a treasure in our villages, which is now the gold (crude oil) ,because the worth of a treasure can raise a country’s economy to the highest in the world, that treasure is now transformed to gold and any quality gold can change the world, not to mention a country. This is the reason behind the lawlessness in this region.
“The reason is because it is not properly handled by the federal and state government. I am using this forum to say that I know and understand that the inability of a country to manage its success. This can result to crisis or anarchy that can lead to the division of the country in parts and this is the case of Nigeria today,” Newuwumi said. .
Govt has failed
He lamented that both government and oil companies have failed in virtually all its promises to the people back then, adding: “Despite the pretensions, there are no functional health centres, no good roads and electricity in the core oil producing communities.
Everybody is a militant here
Newuwumi said” “The people and governments in the region became linked with militancy the very day the people of Niger Delta were mobilized to carry out a protest in Abuja in favour of former Head of State, the late General Sani Abacha’s bid to deliberately rule Nigeria.”
“And again, the day the then Niger Delta governor chose to fight resource control with the help and backing of the law and also carried out physical protests by mobilizing all the communities in the Niger Delta to Abuja again. The greedy educated ones in the region capitalized on this and the government did not help matters by rewarding criminality through the introduction of amnesty program,” he added.
On the way out of the quagmire, he asserted “First, the government must come out with a political will to look into the rule of law in this region from community to community and this will serve as a platform to know who to deal with in these communities amongst the community leaders and the royal fathers.”
Probe Warri crisis
“Secondly and as a matter of immediate priority, government must create a communication from the Kings down to the community leaders†. Thirdly, it should institute a probe into the remote cause of the Warri crisis, which led to the Niger Delta struggle of today.
“I am categorically telling you that if the federal government takes time to look into the remote cause of the Warri crisis, a solution would be found to these Niger Delta bombings because the then federal government and present one have meted out injustice to our people, the Itsekiris.
Innocent blood crying for justice
“The ancestors of our (Itsekiri) land, innocent women and children killed during the crisis are angry and demanding for justice, as you can see for yourself the bombings and vandalization have not ceased since that time,” he said.
LG with 2 hqtrs
Newuwumi, presently and APC chieftain in the state, said: “†I know that the APC is speaking on corruption and I want you to know that the federal government is operating 774 local government areas in the country with their various headquarters ascribed to it in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. “
“But one of our (Itsekiri) local government areas, precisely Warri South West has two local government headquarters. One is Ogidiben, recognized by the constitution and federal government and known by law. The second one is Ogbe-Ijaw and only recognized by the state government. Only the state’s law knows it, is this not a case of injustice and criminality? He said.
His submission: “Another area is for the Federal government to come out with a deliberate infrastructural and human capital development plan, as a matter of urgency, to transform Niger Delta.”