By Raymond EKPE, South-South Investigator Bureau Chief/
BONNY- A group in Bonny kingdom of Rivers State, the Organization of Fishermen, Seafood Dealers and Farmers in the Niger Delta, has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the management of Onne Seaport to, as a matter of urgency, provide adequate security in the Bonny waterways or stop carrying out economic operations in the area.
Convener of the group, Senibo Ralph Stonye Pepple, made the call in a statement issued on Monday, and made available to our reporter. The Onne Port Complex situated on the Bonny River Estuary along Ogu Creek is said to be one of the largest Oil and Gas Free Zone in the world supporting exploration and production for Nigerian activities.
However, the waterways is known for several nefarious activities perpetrated by pirates and marauding criminals almost on a daily basis, thereby bringing fear and untold hardship for the residents and people doing business in the area.
Senibo Pepple and his group expressed worry that the Onne seaport could be allegedly generating revenues amounting to N8.17 billion periodically, and yet it could not assist the kingdom in the area of security inspite of their sufferings in the hands of suspected criminals.
Pepple said: “We find it difficult to understand why the management of Onne seaport cannot assist Bonny Kingdom and our people in terms of security. They are using our waterways for economic activities and they are generating revenues, but they cannot help us by even donating gunboats or fuelling some of the gunboats used for security in the area. Their concern is just about their own operations within the waterways, securing their expatriates and vessels. It is clear that they don’t give a damn about us”.
Pepple threatened that the organization of fishermen in conjunction with concerned youths of Bonny kingdom would mobilize from the Niger Delta region to stop Onne seaport from operations if its management continue to ignore the security demands of the people of the kingdom.
“We will carry out a peaceful demonstration, closing out the Bonny waterways that the management of Onne seaport is using until a positive response is made in terms of securing our waterways. The payment of ransom for victims being kidnapped in the Bonny waterways and all the exchanges are being done in the Onne seaport axis, as well as negotiations for the release of victims
We can no longer condone this act of negligence from the management of Onne seaport. We expect that they should support Bonny Kingdom in the area of security, whilst they use our waterways for business. Without the Bonny waterways, vessels cannot berth in Onne seaport. The security agents should know that we are not fighting with them. But we can no longer close our eyes and watch our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers being kidnapped and raped.
The Bonny waterways are now known as venue for ransom payment of kidnapping victims, and other criminal activities. So, we have to carry out this peaceful demonstration to say enough is enough”, Pepple added.
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