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Niger Delta Meeting: Okafor, Others Call For End to Illegal Oil Bunkering, Refining

By Austin Okoro

The Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Nigeria Delta Affairs and Intelligence, Prince Dr Henry Okafor has called for an end to illegal oil bunkering, illegal oil refining and all forms of criminality in the Niger Delta areas of Imo state so as to engender development and well being of the Imo Niger Delta people.

He made the call while addressing the people of the Imo Niger Delta areas during a one-day Imo Niger stakeholders/ leadership meeting on Tuesday 9th July, 2024 at Owerri, Imo state.

Hon Okafor asserted that his appointment by Governor Hope Uzodinma was as a result of an urgent need to get information concerning the activities in the Niger Delta areas of Imo state, adding that as a Commissioner, he decided that before he kick-starts operations, he must interact with the Niger Delta people to feel their pulse and at the same time discuss the issues that concerns illegal oil bunkering and other criminal activities in the areas. According to him, the meeting was approved by the governor in October last year before his elections, stressing that it is a real meeting and not a political campaign where things that will end the menace will be pointed out.

He went further to reel out the programme of the ministry: ” The ministry of Nigeria Delta Affairs and Intelligence is saddled with the responsibility of speaking your minds before the state, defending you before the oil companies that have taken your property, your lands without paying you. We are just your lawyers and to liaise with the ministry of petroleum to inform them where the oil companies did not treat you well as to do the needful for the people, he noted.”

The workaholic commissioner pointed out that in the past , the oil companies had entered into their lands, cause families to fight against themselves so that they can deny them of their rights, adding that if the oil companies do not do the right things, the ministry of Niger Delta affairs will report them to the ministry of petroleum and they would be sanctioned. ” Secondly, the ministry will help in gathering of intelligence to the security agencies and that if it fails to gather intelligence, it will be difficult for them to operate. “So our duty is to get information, give it to security agencies and the government but must exclude fake information and lies against individuals to wicked them, as every information will be processed and offenders punished, he stated.”

He urged them to report all forms of criminality in the Niger Delta areas to the ministry so that it can be transmitted to security agencies for implementation. ” We don’t have the power to decide who becomes the town union presidents, youth leaders, but any thing that will cause problem in the Niger Delta areas and will disturb the oil companies from working and generate revenue for the government, we will get involved, he noted”

Okafor affirmed that the federal government has made it a task that illegal oil bunkering must stop because it is a crime,an economic sabotage, and causes economic degradation and disturbs the ecosystem. He added that if you do illegal oil bunkering, and it spills on rivers and farm lands it will damage them and cause hardship to the people, stressing that those reasons are enough to fight illegal oil bunkering, pleading that they should join hands to fight it.

In his address, the former Inspector General of Police and the BOT chairman of the Imo Niger Delta elders council, Sir Mike Okiro thanked the honourable Commissioner Henry Okafor for calling for such a gathering as it will definitely engender growth and development of the areas. He also thanked the governor, His Excellency Hope Uzodinma for appointing him the Commissioner in charge of Niger Delta ministry as he is the only man that understands the problems of the Niger Delta people.

In his speech, the commissioner for petroleum, Barr Emeka Mgbudem who represented the Governor said, if the people of Niger Delta areas should join hands and end illegal oil bunkering, and criminality the government will generate more revenue that will help in the development of the areas. He calls on the oil companies operating in the areas to create enabling and conducive environment, provide jobs for the people as that will help them to operate smoothly.

Chief Gideon Meffor in his speech, said the oil companies operating in the areas should provide jobs for the teeming unemployed youths as that will automatically end illegal oil bunkering in the areas.

The women, youths and student groups all called on the government, oil companies to provide jobs, build roads, electricity, pipe- borne waters and other important infrastructures to the people to end oil bunkering.

Dignitaries present at the meeting include; Hon. Kyrian Uchegbu, NDDC Commissioner, Hon Majo Emenike commissioner for Environment, traditional rulers, President Generals, Women groups, Youth groups, government appointees, SOLADS, Niger Delta Journalists Association etcetera.


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