Dickson denies hijack of NNPC’s oil pipeline surveillance contract

Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson has denied the claim by some ex-militant leaders in the state of hijacking the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) crude oil pipeline surveillance contract for oil bearing communities in the state.

At least one person died while eight others were injured as more than a thousand youths, many of them ex-militants took to the streets of Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State, on Saturday to protest against the governor over dispute around pipeline security contracts.

The protesters accused the governor of running a “repressive and insensitive administration.”

Reports said one person died with several others injured following a clash between demonstrators and armed police.

The protesters were upset with Dickson’s reported plan to hijack the multimillion-naira oil pipeline surveillance contract that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) had earmarked for oil-bearing communities in the state.

The protest was organized by ex-militants, but included other sympathetic groups, among them physically challenged persons. The protest started at the Tombia-Etegwe roundabout soon after 6 a.m. Commuters were stranded and commercial activities brought to a halt. No fewer than nine vehicles were vandalized in the ensuing melee. Markets stalls and business outlets, including the popular Camp Murphy relaxation establishment, were vandalized.

The arrival of a reinforcement of police officers helped contain the chaos. Some members of the Presidential Amnesty Implementation Committee also arrived to plead for calm by the ex-militant youths.

But in his official reaction to the development, Governor Dickson said though the state government had established a firm, Izon-Ibe Security Company, to supervise the implementation of the terms of the surveillance contract among the benefiting communities, the reason for setting up the outfit was part of efforts to address the challenges of youth unemployment in the state.

A Government House statement issued in Yenagoa and signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Daniel Iworio-Markson, said the security outfit was basically set up to provide special training for youths and engage them for the purposes of security services

According to the statement, management of the Izon-Ibe Security Company, which has Chief Joshua Fumudoh as Chairman and Chief James Jephthah as Managing Director, with a representative of the Ijaw Youth Council, (IYC) among others on its board is expected to take steps to engage youths to go for the necessary training for job placements in the company.

The statement expressed displeasure that, ex-militants were being used by those it described as misguided politicians to embark on senseless public demonstrations within and outside the state capital.

“Sadly, these ex-militants, who have mismanaged the Amnesty programme to short change their followers, are again planning to use the innocent youths to play out the script of their sponsors to malign the state government and destabilize the state for their selfish financial interest.

“In addition to the Amnesty programme, which they control exclusively, these ex-militant leaders also have a share of the pipeline surveillance contract, but they are fighting to be the only ones to carry out this function throughout the state. They have no capacity to do this and it doesn’t make sense because there are so many youths and chiefs in the state that can also be involved in their communities for accountability.

“The position of the government is that, pipeline surveillance contracts are not for ex-militant leaders alone, most of whom hail from a particular local government area,” the statement added.

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