Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson says the activities of oil thieves pose a great threat not only to the economy but also to national security. Governor Dickson stated this when he received the new Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Yenagoa, Rear Admiral Sidi-Ali Usman in Government House, Yenagoa.
Expressing concern over the impunity with which perpetrators of illegal bunkering, sea piracy and pipeline vandalism operate to undermine constituted authority, the governor linked the proliferation of small and light weapons to such activities in the littoral states. According to Governor Dickson, the criminals have been able to sustain their operations over the years through the proceeds from illegal bunkering activities.
In his words: “What is going on is more of a threat to national security than even the loss of revenue that everybody is shouting about. Let me tell you that all the violence, brigandage and criminality that we experience in the Niger Delta states particularly Bayelsa where I know more, have their roots in the activities in the creeks. “It is from there they have easy funds to recruit followers; it is from these activities of crude oil theft and illegal refining that people are able to sustain such large numbers of youths and put them into various cult groups. “What is going on has a direct effect on the proliferation of small and light weapons because they need an army of youths to protect their territories to be able to withstand the onslaught of legitimate security personnel.
The Governor warned those who have rebuffed the olive branch extended to cultists by the state government to have a change of heart, as his administration would not hesitate to bring them to justice " For those of you who have defied the Cultism Proscription law, in spite of the olive branch we have put forward and arrangement for their renunciation and eventual integration but still want to go ahead with cult activities, I am sounding a clear note of warning that this government will not succumb to blackmail or propaganda.This government will work with security agencies in this state to ensure that those who violate the laws of this state and country will be brought to book."
Consequently, he called for maximum cooperation from the security operatives especially the Nigerian Navy to achieve the present administration’s policy of zero tolerance to violence and crime.
Describing the establishment of the Central Naval Command in the state as significant, Governor Dickson said considering the maritime nature of the state, the Navy has a crucial role to play in policing its waterways. While commending the out gone Flag Officer Commanding, Rear Admiral Olutoyin Johnson for serving the state creditably, he assured the new FOC of government’s continued support.
Commenting on his posting to the Command, the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sidi-Ali Usman, said he assumed duties about 3 weeks ago and has already gone on a familiarization tour of the formations under his command. Rear Admiral Usman expressed determination to combat oil theft and other criminal activities in line with federal government’s mandate.