As oil companies dare to abandon the Niger Delta region, River sate governor Mr. Rotimi Amaechi has vowed to use the Death Sentence as a measure to curb criminal activities in the Oil region. The current punishment for kidnipping and false imprisonment under the criminal code is two to 10 years imprisonment.
The Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said that oil companies have been contemplating leaving the Niger Delta to operate elsewhere in the country as a measure to protect their staffs and facilities. Govenor Amaechi has asked them to rethink their decision. He said taking the operational headquarters and key infrastructural facilities in the industry away from the Niger Delta to safer parts of the country had the potential of worsening the situation, as there would be more unemployment and therefore more restiveness.
The River state governor insisted that the rise of kidnapping and other criminal activities in the state followed the withdrawal of the military and police from checkpoints in an attempt to appease the Niger Delta rebels.”The criminals exploited the situation and struck ceaselessly,” he said. “But we have learnt our lessons and we are back on the streets. We are doing a lot of roads. In the past, there used to be traffic jam. If it were then, the kidnappers will be stuck in traffic,” the governor said.
As crime continue to plague the region, the governor has decided to come down hard, stating that every oil related crime would be made a capital offence and punishable by death. He also described the Niger Delta struggle as an issue concerning poverty and unemployment, he said: “You must encourage the oil companies to come back to Niger Delta. That will create employment opportunities, grow the economy and allow businesses to take place and eradicate the criminality that is going on.”
Due to the soaring rates of kidnapping, attacks on petroleum workers, and the vandalization of petroleum facilities, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), last week, decided to shut down crude oil exports from river Sates and threatened a strike insisting that that until measures are taken and issues addressed, there will be no oil production from River state which is the number one oil producing state in the country.
The recent killing by a criminal gang of an 11-year-old girl and the abduction of her 9-year-old brother as they were going to school in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has served as a platform as well as an eye opener for most employees of petroleum companies. The logic of “rebel umemployment”, which might eventually lead to an end of hostilities, should the oil companies close down, has been deemed by some as the only solution to curb the dangers encountered by Nigerians who risk their lives and that of their families working for oil companies.
Nigeria has already lost some of its crude oil exports to militancy in the Niger Delta region and currently exports only 1.8 million barrels of crude oil per day. This is some 400,000 barrels below the projected 2.2 million barrels of crude that ought to have been exported, depicting a reduction in Nigeria’s revenue for the fiscal year.