A Non-governmental Organisation, Citizens Initiative for Security Awareness (CISA) has commended the drastic measures taken by the Nigerian military in curtailing the excesses of pipeline vandals, sea pirates and other economic saboteurs.
The group also decried the call for the sack of Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor, by some interest groups over the burning of a ship caught engaging in oil theft in the Niger Delta.
It would be recalled that last week, the military high command ordered the destruction of an illegal oil bunkering vessel arrested for oil theft at the creeks of the Niger Delta area.
The arrest of the vessel came at a time when Nigerians were still smarting from the discovery of illegal oil pipelines with which crude oil are being siphoned and stolen by yet-to-be-identified persons.
The illegal vessel which was caught in the act was promptly set ablaze by the military to send a strong message to perpetrators of such acts of national sabotage.
According to the CDS, the instrument of operation was caught and destroyed as a way of showing the resolve of the military in tackling the debilitating crime of oil theft.
Meanwhile, in a statement signed by its National Co-ordinator, Chidi Omeje and Secretary, Olasunkanmi Ogunbodede titled “Inciting Anti-Military Sentiments not in National Interest and the Successes Recorded against Insecurity and Banditry,” CISA condemned in the strongest terms, the ill-advised efforts by some persons and interest group to stir up anti-military sentiment using the reported burning of a vessel caught engaging in oil theft as a rallying point.
The group noted that the same persons were also orchestrating spirited campaigns of calumny against the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor, whom they are calling for his sack over his attempt to clarify the action of the military.
CISA observed that the decisive action and effort by Gen Irabor to defend it elicited the call for his sack.
The statement reads: “Even as CISA understands the niceties of legalism, it believes that an obvious attack on the economic livewire of the country demands the urgency of action that will send a strong warning to economic saboteurs. We believe that contrary to the claims by those canvassing the anti-military sentiment, the decision to promptly destroy the rogue vessel is borne out of the exigency of the time.
“Ironically, the arrowhead of the clamour for the sack of the CDS are those who usually hide under legal technicalities to delay or pervert justice which on many occasions have worked against the national security imperatives. Cases abound where such illegal vessels caught in action are eventually released after an unending legal tussle.
“We believe that oil theft is an open war against the Nigerian nation and the military is right in handling the case with the dispatch it requires. Let us not pander to economic saboteurs all in the name of activism. If we insist on legalism against expediency, how come no dust is raised when the Federal Government engaged a non-state actor to help stop oil theft? Is it constitutional? What is constitutional is that our maritime assets would be protected by the Armed Forces, particularly the Nigerian Navy.
Our contention, therefore, is that in some special cases like the caught illegal oil bunkering vessel, expedient action needed to be taken in order to radically address the situation and send the right message as is also being done in the North East and North West of Nigeria.
“For CISA, the time we are in calls for decisive actions with dispatch and not gerrymandering in matters of grave national security interest. We can cite an example of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) which from time to time, destroys seized narcotics in their custody. The idea is to send the right message of non-tolerance of the crime.
CISA, therefore, call on Nigerians to be mindful of the antics of conflict merchants and agent provocateurs who are simply on a self-serving interest but are masquerading as patriots. It is certainly not in our national interest to call for the sack of the Chief of Defence Staff for taking a bold step in the fight against oil theft.
“The mood of the nation does not call for further heating up of the polity. Let reason prevail,” it concluded.