Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has called on the federal government to consider the damage caused by activities of crude oil thieves to the economic mainstay of the country and treat them as treasonable offenders.
This is as he stated that the fight to stop oil theft has continued to fail because top ranking officers of the military are deeply involved in it.
Wike spoke on Monday when he hosted the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao, who paid courtesy visit to the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor noted that it was not only the wastage of the economy that is witnessed, but the degradation that the environment also suffers as a result of that also impacts negatively on rural communities in Rivers State in particular.
He said: “You know this bunkering cannot stop; let’s be serious about it, everybody is involved. The military is involved. Police is involved. The Nigeria Civil Defence Corps is involved. If not, there is no way bunkering can continue. It’s a terrible thing.
“I don’t know, whether we should take the issue of bunkering to even be more serious than treason. If you go around and see what has happened to our environment, you’ll have pity on us.”
Wike called on members of the military taskforce deployed to arrest the illegal oil bunkers to find a better and environmentally-friendly way to destroy bunkering sites in the state.
The governor said when they blow up and set those sites on fire, they increase soot in the atmosphere that have become another grave environmental concern in Rivers State.
He said: “If there is another civilised way to go about it, so that while you’re doing the right thing, let us not die. You should find another way to reduce this soot. Unfortunately, we have no helper. On the other hand, we continue praying to God to touch the minds of these bunkers.”
Commenting on the war against insurgency, Wike commended the military for the success that they have achieved in reducing the level of carnage Boko Haram and bandits have caused in parts of the country.
The governor, however, noted that greater success can be achieved by deploying more military strategies, which is better than media publicity.
Speaking earlier, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Amao said he was on operational visit to 115 Special Operation Group in the State and decided to pay courtesy visit to governor, who has contributed immensely to the functioning of the NAF base in Port Harcourt.
Amao commended the governor for the good work he has continued to do in Rivers State in terms of provision of infrastructure.
He said: “We commend you for being able to contain the security situation in the state. Rivers State has been a very peaceful State. That is why, most at times, I and the service chiefs have to focus on other places with much problems.
“The governor is able to achieve this state of peace because and from the brief I got from my officers, he has been a very good coordinator and also assisted the security agencies in the discharge of their duties.”