Baroness Lynder Chalker
Ex-militants launch campaign against kidnapping, other crimes
Ernest Chinwo and Muhammad Bello
The Coordinator of the Honorary International Investors Council (HIIC), Baroness Lynder Chalker, Tuesday urged the Federal Government to curtail the problems of proliferation of terrorism and crude oil theft in the country.
Also, former militants in the Niger Delta have said they would embark on a massive campaign against kidnapping, crude oil theft and sea piracy in the Niger Delta region.
Chalker, who spoke against the backdrop of forthcoming meeting in Abuja in June, observed that although the country had achieved an enviable and impressive economic profile, the activities of Islamist insurgents and oil bunkerers would not help in sustaining what it had achieved by way of economic growth and attraction of foreign investments.
According to her, these problems and how to overcome them are part of the agenda of the June meeting of the HIIC, a global advisory body that offer insights to President Goodluck Jonathan on how to launder the country’s image in order to enable it attract international investors into the country.
Chalker, who earlier on had had a private meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, told journalists that her group was poised to assist Nigeria have an edge over emerging and equally favoured competitors, who were ready to take advantage of its weaknesses occasioned by violence and fraud to bouy their economies.
Noting that her group had a very fruitful interactive session with President Jonathan on the update of its work and the plans for the June meeting, she said: “We will be having further discussions and also seeking to bring about an end to oil theft in the Niger Delta, which is critical for the country and they are critical for the way in which the country is viewed abroad.”
“We talked about the presentation of news, whether it was always fair. We talked about the relationship between the Federal Government and the 36 states in this. So it was a planning and update meeting and it was a very positive meeting.
Earlier, Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, had commended the achievements of the HIIC as an advisory body to President Jonathan, which had contributed to the nation’s positive international image and investors’ destinations.
Meanwhile, the ex-militants, who also renewed their support for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, stated that the decisions were part of the resolutions of a meeting of the former militants in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, under the aegis of the Leadership Forum for Peace in Niger Delta.
National President of the Forum, Reuben Wilson, said in an interview with journalists in Port Harcourt, that the campaign would take them to the various communities of the region, churches and the creeks.
He said the forum decried what they called the embarrassing decision of some youths in the region to return to the “inglorious path of kidnapping, crude oil theft and sea piracy” and declared that they would ensure that the malaise did not continue.
Wilson said: “We met in Akwa Ibom State this time around and part of our resolve was that there is the need for us to launch a campaign to make sure that we do not have cases of kidnapping and crude oil theft again. We are aware that there are still some elements in the creeks, who did not accept the amnesty and may be doing this kidnapping of a crime to embarrass the Federal Government.
“There may be others too who may be doing it to attract attention. But crime is crime and since it is a familiar path to us, we are not strangers to these things. We have offered to be involved so that we can call these boys to order.
“We need to do all we can to ensure that the president concentrates and delivers good governance to the people. We cannot be talking of foreign investments when there are still issues of kidnapping. We cannot talk of money for development when we are still hearing of crude oil theft and sea piracy.”
Wilson said they were willing to stake their lives to return to the creeks and pull out those who were still operating from there and disrupting the peace of the country.
“If we need to go into the creeks to talk to whoever may be engaging in these acts of criminality, we will. We will stake our lives and do this. Nigeria belongs to all of us,” he said.
He also said the effort was part of the contribution of the former militants to ensure that Jonathan concentrated in the governance of the nation.
“The president needs encouragement and support for him to succeed. We have already given our words that we will work towards ensuring that he returns to the seat in 2015 and this is one of the things we are going to do. Let me re-state that nobody can stop the president from being re-elected in 2015,” he said.
About two weeks ago, some members of the forum were involved in securing the release of some foreigners, who were kidnapped in Bayelsa State.