By Desmond Ejibas
The Eze Upata and Regent of Ekpeye in Rivers, Dr Felix Otuwarikpo, on Monday urged authorities to investigate allege collusion of some security personnel with illegal bunkers in Ahoada, Rivers.
Otuwarikpo made the call at the opening of 2019 Correspondents’ Week organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers council in Port Harcourt.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the theme of the ceremony was: “Role of the Media in Protecting the Rivers Environment.”
The monarch said that allege cover provided by some security personnel to criminals in the area was partly responsible for increased spate of illegal bunkering in Ahoada.
“We are worried with activities of illegal bunkers in Ahoada East and Ahoada West despite the amnesty offered to 336 cultists and militants by Rivers government on June 25.
“As at the time we disarmed the criminals, Ekpeye land became peaceful. But unfortunately, crime has returned to the area thanks to some selfish people.
“Now, security agencies are the ones encouraging oil thieves in carrying out illegal bunkering in Ekpeye land knowing that such activity is harmful to the environment.
Otuwarikpo said that actions of the unnamed security agencies had led to proliferation of small and light arms in the area.
Accordimg to him, the corrupt security agents rather than raid the illegal bunkering sites stay on the highways to collect bribes from oil thieves.
“This unfortunate situation has emboldened criminals who collectively pollute our environment and endanger lives of the people. This is unacceptable.
“We call on heads of security agencies in the state to call their men to order – as their actions promote illegalities in Ahoada communities.
“I’m also willing to take journalists round the illegal bunkering sites to see for themselves how bunkers operate freely without security agencies confronting them,” he said.
The monarch commended correspondents for organising the event that focused to improve environment in the state.
Responding, the Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, Port Harcourt Commodore Sam Bura, said the navy does not operate in the area.
Also speaking, Maj. Charles Ekeocha, spokesman of Army 6 Division Port Harcourt said the army was not aware of personnel involvement in illegal bunkering.
He said the army seriously frowns to misconduct of personnel while carrying out their duties.
“I plead to the monarch to provide journalists with evidence to buttress his claims. The Nigerian Army has not been part of such illegalities,” he assured. (NAN)