Bayelsa Elders Council (BEC) rose from an emergency meeting yesterday in Yenagoa, the state capital, and urged the Federal Government to tread cautiously on the issue of renewed bombing of oil facilities in the Niger Delta.
The meeting, which had in attendance the council’s chairman, Chief Francis Doukpola, royal fathers Joshua Igbagara, Jonathan Kubor, Richard Seiba and Chief Thompson Okorotie, Prof. Ayabaemi Spiff, Prof. Francis Sikoki as well as Mr. Charles Dorgu, condemned, in very strong terms, bombing of the facilities and appealed to the perpetrators to desist from such act.
The elders noted that a nation grappling with economic challenges cannot afford to face further economic woes due to destruction to oil facilities.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, signed by Doukpola and Okorotie, the BEC appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct security agencies to go after the perpetrators so as to bring them to book under the rule of law.
The BEC further advised the government to adopt a carrot and stick approach in its negotiation with host communities to bring about sustainable solutions to the problem.
On the anti-corruption war, it threw its weight behind the Buhari administration, adding, however, that it was concerned about the way some Nigerians, including Ijaws, are being handled in the process.
“The council is deeply pained at the re-activation of oil and gas pipeline bombings and vandalism. We strongly appeal to the perpetrators to desist from the dastardly act forthwith in order to avoid the inevitable damage this would cause the economy of our states and the Nigerian state, especially at this time when the country is grappling with ridiculous oil price regime.”
The elders council, however, appealed to the president to direct security agencies to go after the perpetrators only with a view to bringing them to justice under the rule of law. In so doing, security operatives would not destroy innocent communities in the process of fishing out the perpetrators.
“The Federal Government should observe restraint while making pronouncement on the matter and should consult widely with relevant stakeholders when major decisions concerning the amnesty programme are to be taken.”
Meanwhile, former leaders of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) from the six Niger Delta states denied recent bombing of oil and gas facilities in Delta State.
Speaking under the Leadership Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI), led by Pastor Rueben Wilson (aka General Pastor), they faulted claims that former militants were behind the attacks and said criminals carried out the action.
According to the former MEND leaders, though the Federal Government has launched its investigation, claims against former militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo and other leaders are not true and misplaced.
General Pastor insisted that those behind the attacks were criminal elements, who out to disrupt the peace in the region and pit the Federal Government against the people of the region.