The Federal Government has been told that some parts of the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea are now governed by organised criminal lords who operate crude oil theft and illegal bunkering.
The gangs are also said to specialise on pipeline vandalism, drugs, and other forms of organised crimes. This was declared by the Youth and Environmental
Advocacy Centre (YEAC) is said to be fully licensed and is the first organisation in Nigeria authorised to campaign against crude oil theft and other crimes in the oil region.
In addition, the Muhammadu Buhari administration was told to endeavour to fulfil the promise it made to the Niger Delta people on modular refinery licenses and other promises so that peace can return to the oil region.
These were highlights of a national conference in Port Harcourt on Friday, April 28, 2023, on organised crimes in the Gulf of Guinea and launch of the Network on Organised Crimes in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.
The executive director of YEAC, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, who placed these calls insisted that only the fulfilment of the promises would mitigate the violent situation in the Niger Delta as well as the Gulf of Guinea.
Fyneface specifically urged the FG to please issue the 18 modular refinery licenses already approved for Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Cross Rivers, Edo, and Rivers States. “I hereby reiterate the call for Ondo, Abia, and Imo states where pipeline vandalism, artisanal refining an associated environmental pollution are also ongoing to be included among the states to be issued with three modular refining each to mitigate the recurring organised crimes.”
In his welcome address at the national conference held at Landmark Hotel, the activist urged the Government to establish the presidential artisanal crude oil refining development initiative for illegal artisanal refining in the Niger Delta, the same way he said the FG established the presidential artisanal Gold Mining Development initiative (PAGM) for illegal gold mining for parts of the north and Western Nigeria.
The executive director who blamed insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea and Nigeria to the attitude of the security operatives posted to the area called on the security operatives to stay away from aiding and abetting pipeline vandalism and other crimes.
He also appealed to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Ministry of Transportation, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) and other relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government to implement in full the communique issued at the Global Maritime Security Conference in 2019 in Abuja. “I call on the Gulf of Guinea Commission to strengthen its efforts in the coordination of member states and synergizing with non-state actors especially under the auspices of the Network on Organised Crimes in Nigeria and Gulf of Guinea (NOCINAG) in the fight against organized crimes in the region.
“Let the FG get in touch with other governments in the Gulf of Guinea to set up Task Force against organized crimes in Nigeria and Gulf of Guinea. I appeal to members of the public to join hands in this fight.”
Fyneface listed the forms of organized crimes in the Gulf of Guinea include pipeline vandalism, artisanal refining, crude oil theft, kidnapping, illegal bunkering, banditry, insurgency, racketeering, cybercrimes (yahoo yahoo), sea piracy, drugs and human trafficking, unreported and unregulated fishing, illegal logging, and arms smuggling.
The activist said the cartels involved now operate illegal governance structures and networks in both governable and ungovernable spaces across borders to perpetrate their local, national, and trans-national organized crimes and violate human rights. They then end up profiting at great public, thereby denting national images in the Gulf of Guinea.
“These organized criminals are aided and abated by some members of the security agencies posted to fight and mitigate the same organised crime.”
He said the YEAC-Nigeria under his leadership as the executive director was worried about the activities of organised crime in Niger Delta communities and their impact on the local, indigenous people and the society at large.
“We have thus focused more attention on advocacy and activities aimed at proffering solutions and mitigating organized crimes, its impact on the people and transiting youths involved especially those involved in the organized crimes of crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and other ones.”
He said the conference is part of executing the mandate of the YEAC backed by some international organisations after his exchange programmes which exposed him on how the US government partners with corporations and NGOs to create platforms that can work together to tackle organized crime.
“Our actions to mitigate crimes include modular refinery advocacy, presidential artisanal crude oil refining development initiative (PACORDI), solar mini-grid electricity facilities, Niger Delta Indigenous Cultural Park, National Conference on Organised Crime in Nigeria and Gulf of Guinea, Network on Organised Crimes in Nigeria and Gulf of Guinea (NOCINAG), pipeline surveillance contract, and coastal community approach to organized crimes mitigation.”
A keynote speaker, a professor, Fidelis Allen, who is head of the political and administrative studies, University of Port Harcourt, said the conference and the launch of the network on organized crime are significant steps towards improving the response to threats posed by organized crime in the region.
The professor said there is urgent need for the policy community to act decisively and commit itself to combating organized crimes due to its scale, trans-national nature, low resilience of countries, vulnerability of innocent people, and the impact it has in the general security and development.
He said: “Conferences networks are important networks for the growth of humanity. Crimes do not happen in isolation but a function of the state of a society. In every society where crime is low, check the standards established by the government in that society.”
He said fighting crime is like signing death warrant; “When you fight crime, you must be serious to see to the result of the endeavour.”
He revealed that the Global Crime Index survey which said 80 per cent of persons live in countries plagued by crimes. “Among continents with the highest rates of criminality and low resilience in 2020, Africa was ranked second after Asia.
“The role of state actors has sadly implicated both in the scale of the problem and in the resilience of countries as well as in the vulnerability of the society, particularly in the security and well-being issues.”
Buhari was mentioned as one of the topmost personalities to participate in the security event as part of his planned trip to Rivers State, but he did not make it.