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Civil Groups In Lagos Rally, Back Tinubu And Reject Pipeline Contracts For Ex-Bandits

Reject Pipeline Contracts In Itsekiri, Ilaje Lands For Tompolo

Leaders of civil society groups have held a rally in Lagos, calling for a stop to the pattern of awarding pipeline contracts to people and groups associated with violence.

They expressed full support for the reforms of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, asking Nigerians to be patient to reap the dividends.

The groups, under the Civil Society Coalition for Mandate Protection, (CSC-MAP), which held a rally at Ojota in Lagos on Wednesday, cautioned that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) may be unconsciously empowering armed groups through pipeline contracts in the Niger Delta.

The groups said pipeline protection should be given to professional and that pipelines in Itsekiri and Yoruba territories should not be given to former bandits who once led armed insurrection against the state.

Over 1,000 representatives of indigenous peoples from oil-producing communities in Lagos, Ondo and Delta states attended the rally.

The group said it may be compelled to hold rallies in Abuja to draw the attention of The Presidency, the National Assembly and the International Community.

Some of the banners read: ‘Stop Pipeline Contracts to Bandits’, ‘No more pipeline contracts for former militants,’ ‘Don’t Give Pipelines Protection in Itsekiriland to Our Enemy’, ‘Probe illegal Arms in Niger-Delta’, Okuoma Killings: Who gave The |Guns.’

The group said: ‘The CSC-MAP has received complaints from many oil-producing communities who feel sidelined by the Federal Government and corporation institutions like oil-producing companies and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC in benefit sharing and job opportunities for the young in the companies involved in oil pipeline protection.’

The coalition said indigenous peoples vehemently oppose the idea of giving the protection of pipelines protection in Itsekiri and Ilaje lands to Mr Government Ekemuokpolo said to have led armed battles against the Itsekiri and Ilaje in the past.

‘We want President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to succeed.We do not want anything that can lead to another round of crisis in the oil-producing communities in the Niger-Delta.The NNPC must never give protection of pipelines in Itsekiri and Ilaje territories to Tompolo who was the ring leader in the ethnic conflict between Itsekiri and Ijaw and between Ijaw and Ilaje. Any attempt to do this is an invitation to chaos,’ the group said.

The coalition said oil-producing communities are concerned that while oil pipleline contracts are a means of providing jobs for local communities, the majority of people in oil-producing companies are sidelined by the fact that some of the companies involved in the pipelines protection are not indigenous to the communities and territories that are expected to protect.

‘The indigenous communities like Itsekiri and Ilaje are being sidelined. There is a looming dispute which can snowball into a major problem. It is inconceivable that oil pipeline protection in Itsekiri and Ilaje have been handed over to interests that fought these communities with arms and ammunition in the past.’

They said the danger is that leaders of armed groups in the name of pipeline protection are being fortified and funded to have dominion on Itsekiri and Ilaje territories, which is totally unacceptable.

‘Itsekiri and Ilaje Communities in Ondo, Delta, Lagos states call on the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to review the oil pipeline contracts to ensure that local and indigenous people that host oil and oil pipelines are direct beneficiaries,’ the CSC-MAP said.

Leaders who spoke at the rally were the CSC-MAP Deputy Coordinator, Michael Ajayi, Assistant Secretary, Ajayi Lateef, Abubakar Salami and Uzor Jideofor.

The group said millions of youths remain unemployed in Iteskiri communities even though they are from oil-producing communities.

That indigenous communities in Ondo, Itsekiri Delta, Ogun and Lagos States called on Tinubu to review the whole indigenous companies operating in these states to ensure that the real beneficiaries are people indigenous to these communities.’

CSC-MAP said the Federal Government should ensure pipeline protection does not lead to proliferation of arms in the oil-producing communities. It said the communities are worried following the killings of 17 soldiers in the Niger Delta which it shows clearly that certain elements in the Niger Delta are in possession of dangerous weapons.

It said: ‘The Federal Government should launch a new amnesty to ensure armed groups remaining in the Niger Delta hand over their arms to the Federal Government. That the Federal Government should set up a committee made up of security agencies and community leaders to investigate the source of arms used in the killing of the soldiers and to punish those responsible for the proliferation of arms.’

‘The CSC-MAP said the communities are worried and feel unsafe following the killings of 17 soldiers: ‘It shows clearly that illicit arms remain in large numbers in the Niger Delta. We call for immediate and thorough investigations to find out if there is a link between arms proliferation in the Niger Delta, oil pipeline contracts and the recent killing of the soldiers. That failure to address these burning issues may lead to outbreak of hostilities the Niger-Delta.

‘The community based organisation in the oil-producing communities are concerned about old and fresh environmental problems arising from busting of illegal refineries, social and cultural issues associated with oil production pipeline protection in Nigeria. CSC-MAP is also concerned with issues of pollution, security and other indigenous issues relating to oil production in Nigeria. The Civil Society Coalition for Mandate Protection, (CSC-MAP) is a coalition of 55 civil society, community-based organisations and faith based groups spread across Nigeria.’

The group was established in 2007 as a platform for the protection and defence of democracy, justice and the rule of law in Nigeria.

CSC-MAP has been involved in peace building and conflict prevention in the past 16 years through workshops, training advocacy and networking in urban and rural communities in Nigeria.

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