OPINION : OKUOMA KILLINGS: Non-State Actors Protecting Oil Installations Politically, Economically Unsafe For Nigeria, Says Rtd. Major Gen.Olanrewaju

Former Minister of Communications and Chairman of Presidential Review Committee for the General Abisoye Panel on NNPC Reforms, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, Rtd, ndc, says non-state actors, who parade themselves as militants, should not be seen around crude oil pipelines in the name of security and protection in Nigeria.

He said constitutionally recognised military institutions should be well positioned and equipped to do the job through specially trained and strategically built forces like it is done in India and Venezuela.

General Olanrewaju stated this in his reaction to the painful killing of Lt. Col. AH Ali, the Commanding Officer of 181 Amphibious Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Agbor, along with two majors, one captain and 13 other soldiers of the Army by Okuoma youths in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State on Thursday 14th March 2024.

The Olanrewaju’s intervention was coming on the heels of the event that took place in Okuoma.

The former Member Provisional Ruling Council said, “That event in Okuoma gives me an unsettled mind about events surrounding the nation’s high volumes of oil deposits in Western Delta. The consequences of collateral damages resulting from gang warfare between two warring communities of Okuoma and Okoloba could lead to further serious consequences of collateral damages to our national assets as a result of this unwarranted conflict.

“I believe strongly that the federal government should reconsider a new security protection template for our oil rich region, not on a piece meal basis but the entire oil belt in the country.

“I also have a strong feeling that non-state actors should be called their true identity and not dressed up nicely with a patronising name. They are militants, thugs, hoodlums and are not different from bandits. That is what they are. Their transition has always been from thuggery, militancy to terrorism. That was how Boko Haram started.”

According to General Olanrewaju, a former General Officer Commanding, 3 Armoured Division Nigerian Army, “The Okuoma community’s land conflict of this nature with its neighbour may signal a new build-up of community warfare that can snowball into a bigger conflict in the region. Who knows? It was Odi, Zaki Biam, now Okuoma and Okoloba. This is a smoldering smoke that must be quenched as quickly as possible. The earlier the federal government steps in quickly and keeps the smoldering smoke down as fast as possible, the better in the oil region.

“My view as my committee suggested on Gen Abisoye’s NNPC’s Report still stands the test of time. The NSA and the Military High Command must come out with a new Creek defence plan and policy to include the crude oil zone, oil platform, the offshore assets and resources to support them by laws, regulations and the Constitution.

“As a matter of digression, I have made the points that the so-called non-state actors cannot protect our oil pipelines for lack of total patriotism. The nation needs a national institution to protect our national assets. We need to apply capital punishment for offences relating to oil theft in the Niger Delta region and banditry around our mining states. The nation derives its revenues from these resources. This definition has to be made clear in our laws and the Constitution. Those soldiers must not die in vain.

“There is nowhere in the world where some sections of the society will be fighting unprotected military officers on peace mission. It is because of armed forces, as an institution, and police that Nigeria is still united. And for a set of people to gang up to cut, burn and kill military officers? It is not done and must not be allowed to be pushed under. Perpetrators must be fished out and punished.”

From Media Office of Retired Maj-Gen Tajudeen Olanrewaju, ndc

Thursday 21st March 2024.

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