By Akanimo Sampson
Security concerns in Bonny Island, Rivers State, are threatening to stall a continuous flow of $90 billion revenue from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG). The Bonny Stakeholders Vanguard (BSV) has threatened to shut down movement, and boat shuttles
of the multi-billion natural gas giant if the alleged deplorable security situation in area continues unabated.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the NLNG, Tony Attah, had said that the company generated over $90 billion in revenue to the Federal Government. Attah also said that the NLNG’s planned Train 7 Project, which will increase production output of its plant from 22 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) to 30 MTPA, and will also lift Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country.
According to him, NLNG was seeking $7.00 billion from the global international markets to cover the construction of Train 7) (and investment in the upstream gas sector in the country that will ensure the sustainability of feedgas supply to its existing trains (Trains 1 to 6) and the new Train 7.
In the mean time, the Bonny group is accusing security agencies especially the Police, Marine Police and Navy of complicity in protecting perpetrators of crime and violence on the Island.
Spokesperson of the group, Igoni Hailsham, an elder, said in Port Harcourt, the state capital, “one would have expected the police to openly condemn, investigate and bring to book perpetrators of such crimes rather than open their arms to embrace criminal accomplices, a
clandestine move that stinks to high heaven.’’
Consequently, they are calling on the Inspector General of Police, and the Chief of Naval Staff to investigate why the police shield criminals and the Navy and marine police have refused to act on the wave of sea piracy on the Island, expressing concerns that those who allegedly involved in
various degrees of criminality and gun-running on the Island are continuously shielded from public prosecution by criminally minded security operatives.
Continuing, Igoni said, “we have evidence of cult activities on the Island by two rival groups, the Icelanders and Greenish, according to him, on October 1st, two members of the Icelanders were seen shooting live ammunition in the air, leaving used bullets littered around the floor.
“Reports were made to the relevant security agencies in the local government area, but no action to date has been taking. Presently the security is even aware that one of the persons involved with this shooting and disturbance of public peace is taking refuge in Oguede one of the
suburbs in Bonny but has deliberately refused to go for him.’’
For Ibimina Benstowe, a resident of the Island, “it is an irony that the same group of persons involved with sea piracy, kidnapping, raping and various other social vices are the same people demonstrating in Bonny against insecurity. Who are they deceiving? It is provocative that on
a daily basis, groups are rising on the guise of protesting for Bonny kingdom security. The question is on whose interest? There must be decorum, any organisation that is not recognised by the kingdom cannot protest on their behalf without their approval’’, adding that these
misplaced protests amount to total disrespect for his majesty and the kingdom.
Leaders of the two main cult groups -Icelanders and Greenish- have been alleged to now forcefully collect homage from Okada, Keke, boat and taxi riders, including from various fuel dumps and are responsible for the recent wave of sea piracy in the area.
Similarly, Charles Hart is calling for the reposting of officers of the marine police who have served on the island for over two years. He said some of them had developed serious relationships with the criminals that they cannot go after them, alleging further that the gunboats are lying fallow while the boys have continued their raid on defenseless citizens on the sea,
adding that there is a need to put the gunboats into judicious use.
He said Bonny had been a very peaceful enclave in the Niger Delta, and wonders why the explosion of criminality now that NLNG train 7 is about to commence. “Bonny people must be told the security measures on the ground to stem the wave of criminality. As a people we
are demanding the Environmental Impact Assessment report as it concerns security, this must be made public to ascertain the preparedness of security to tackle issues of security beyond the train 7 sites but also in the entire Bonny kingdom,’’ he said.
A member of the group, Allswell Pepple says there have been moves for a peace accord between the rival cult groups to stem the spate of shooting on the area. “A lot of stakeholders have countered the move saying that the Bonny kingdom security committee should step aside
and hands-off any peace accord with the cult groups because there is a gun-running issue involved. They rather advocated that a special security squad should be brought in to fish out those cultists involved with arms to stem the tide of criminal tendencies in Bonny once and for
all,’’ he said.
For Joshack Tobin, from the Finima community, “the last time a peace accord was reached between cultists a lot of insane privileges were accorded them at the detriment of graduates who should ordinarily merit such privileges, thereby giving them undeserving rights. They say the security forces must do the needful to address this critical issue.’’