By Okafor Ofiebor
The Regent of Ekpeye kingdom which is made up of Ahoada-East and Ahoada-West in Rivers State, Eze Felix Otuwarikpo, has accused officers of Nigerian Army of being in cahoot with criminal elements who engage illegal oil bunkering and continue to vandalise oil pipes, causing environmental pollution in his domain.
The Monarch spoke Monday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, during the opening ceremony of 2019 Correspondents’ Week of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Rivers State, with theme: “Role of the Media in Protecting the Rivers Environment”.
According to him, “the security agents who are supposed chase out criminals involved in illegal oil bunkering who are daily polluting the environment are aiding and abetting the criminals.
“Journalists need to investigate the role of security agents in illegal oil bunkering activities in the state that have contributed immensely to the destruction of the environment.
“I use this opportunity to request members of the Correspondents’ Chapel to visit Ahoada-East and Ahoada-West local government areas.
“I am inviting you because, sometime in June this year, we held a traditional amnesty programme where 334 cultists and militants surrendered and we received their weapons from them. These weapons were handed over to government.
“Today, as a traditional ruler, I feel very sad because security agents that have the responsibility to help us to check these criminals are the ones encouraging criminality in our area. I want it to be on record.
“When we disarmed these boys, Ekpeyeland became the most peaceful ethnic nationality in the state and in fact in Nigeria. Today, security agents are the ones encouraging these boys to carry out bunkering in our area.
“You will agree with me that anywhere you allow bunkering to go on for at least 24 hours, there will be proliferation of small arms in the area.” The monarch said.
He also threatened to mobilize his subjects against the illegal oil thieves, their sponsors and some compromised security personnel if identified illegal oil bunkering sites in his kingdom were not closed after the security meeting that he scheduled to summon soonest in his kingdom.
Also, an Ogoni Environmental Rights Activist, Celestine Akpobari, in his keynote address challenged Journalists practising in the Niger Delta region, to devote quality time to reporting on the issues affecting the environment in the region because the fallout of polluted environment affect all, including the Journalists.