From Ben Dunno, Warri
Over 500 members of the Host Communities of Nigeria (HOSTCOM) have warned against the proposed plan by the Federal Government to compensate some kidnappers with pipeline surveillance contracts, saying the gesture would be counter-productive in the ongoing war against violent crime in the country.
Speaking against the backdrop of the recent commitment made by the a presidential adviser to offer part of the surveillance contract to kidnappers of secondary school students in Igbonla, Epe, Lagos State, the body said it was out to resist such gestures to criminals.
While querying the justification behind the proposed contract offer to kidnappers, the HOSTCOM leadership noted that such an offer to some identified criminal elements in the society would further worsen the crime wave in the country, especially in the Niger Delta region, as many youths would also want to join in perpetrating all sorts of crimes, in anticipation of being rewarded with contracts.
HOSTCOM acting chairman, Chief Benjamin Style Tamaraebi, who addressed newsmen in Warri, Delta State, noted that although they have agreed to work with ex-agitators in the region because they were the ones who took all the risks in charting the course for self-determination, in line with the yearnings of the people, they would never work with kidnappers in whatever guise.
He said, “HOSTCOMM is already in discussion with ex-agitators towards monitoring and securing the pipelines in the Niger Delta region, but we would resist any plan to give abductors of students the pipeline surveillance contract, as this would encourage our youths to go into crime.”
Tamaraebi, who was accompanied by other leaders, including the national coordinator of the organisation, Prince Maikpobi Okareme, said the offer was “an aberration, a staunch vomit, an affront to the host communities, which should be resisted with stiff opposition.”
“We expect nothing less than for the Federal Government to invite us to sign the agreement already reached with NNPC, who is in charge. Anything contrary to this agreement already reached shall bring vexation of anger, which should not be so contemplated at this very critical period in the Nigerian state,” he said.
Prior to the briefing, members of HOSTCOM, in their hundreds, had danced round major streets of Warri, displaying placards with various inscriptions, including: “Pipeline surveillance belongs to HOSTCOM and the ex-militants,” and “HOSTCOM objects to diversion of pipeline surveillance,” among others.