A renowned criminologist and President of Southern Youths Development Forum, Pastor Bassey James, has accused the United Kingdom (UK) of acting in bad faith by tagging Akwa Ibom a security risk state.
James was reacting to a recent warning by the UK government which advised her citizens not to travel to 21 states in Nigeria including Akwa Ibom State, because of kidnappings, terrorism, militancy, and diseases.
In the statement posted on its website and updated on June 17, 2019, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said frequent attacks by the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, in the restive North-eastern region of Nigeria, raids by armed bandits in the North-west and North-central states, kidnappings across Nigeria, fatal diseases like Ebola and Lassa fever and militancy in the South-south, have made Nigeria a dangerous destination for the rest of the world, with other 20 states in Nigeria which the UK had placed under travel ban for her citizens.
James, who spoke to journalists in Lagos yesterday, said it was saddening that the government of the UK could make such a blanket ban to include Akwa Ibom State, without getting proper information from Mobil Oil Producing, a multinational oil company domiciled in the state and still doing business in Akwa Ibom.
His words: “The travel ban on Akwa-Ibom State is very embarrassing, it’s uncalled for, especially when it is not done in good faith.
“Mobile Oil Producing is domicile in Akwa Ibom State. The company has not complained of any security treat. In fact, the company is making more money and both white and black men from all over the world come to Akwa Ibom State.”
James added that Mobil foreign partners are still producing and taking the revenue from Akwa Ibom resort simply because the state is quite safe.
“To include Akwa Ibom among the states affected by the travel ban is so sad. I thought that the UK would have enough information from Mobil Oil which is still sapping Akwa Ibom and the South-south part of Nigeria through oil exploration,” the Southern Youths president asserted.
He insisted that Akwa Ibom people were quiet because by nature Akwa Ibom people were peaceful, adding; “I think that every Akwa Ibom person, every South-south person even Nigerians and the federal government should condemn it.”
James lamented that rather than portraying Akwa Ibom as a security risk zone, when in reality many foreigners including British citizens still fly in out of Akwa Ibom, from Lagos to the oil rigs and back, was insultive.
“We may challenge them in court because that is an insult to Akwa Ibom State, an insult to Niger Delta people and an insult to Nigeria.
“We have the best security network today in Nigeria. All over the state, local governments and communities, Akwa-Ibom is joy. That is why local and foreign investors are coming to Akwa-Ibom State in large numbers,” he insisted.
He took a swipe at the UK High Commission in Nigeria saying, “You can’t link Akwa-Ibom to militancy and that’s why they have continued to cheat and oppress our people. In other climes, companies would not be allowed to exploit their host communities as Mobil and other companies are doing.
“For the UK government to make this blanket ban to include Akwa-Ibom State is another form of oppressing our people. We reject it in totality.
James also vowed to challenge anybody on the issue of Akwai safety adding that the state is the safest and the most hospitable state.
“We are very accommodating; we celebrate people and we celebrate Mobil,” the youth President asserted.