Wide criticisms are trailing President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval of contracts for securing the waterways and oil pipelines to companies owned by ex-militants and factional leaders of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC).
The Presidency is understood to have directed the Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to quit the job for the companies which have been signed on by the government.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Niyi Akintola, described the plan as an act of corruption which has no precedent anywhere in the world.
“Why must we encourage the establishment and operation of ex-militants in securing our oil pipelines? What is the responsibility of the Police and the Navy if the ex-militants are to be saddled with the responsibility? It is an act of corruption in itself and I don’t think the intention has any precedent anywhere in the world. I don’t know when tribal militias have the right to carry out security surveillance in the country.
“When given the contracts, would they not be interested in having their own national cake? It appears all you need to become a millionaire and command respect in the country is to be a militant. I don’t think a decent society would encourage this because it emboldens other militants to ask for a similar advantage and this is why we are in this quagmire.”
He feared that the plan could lead to another form of insurgency “and that will amount to endangering the society the more. The financiers of Boko Haram are certainly regretting their actions today. So the Federal Government should think twice and allow the Navy and the Police to do their jobs.
“In Dubai, there is always constant air force patrol in the sky. After the 9/11 attack in America, their air force patrols the city all the time. That is what nations that are serious about their internal security do. They don’t entrust their security to militants.”
Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo blasted the Federal Government for conceiving the idea in the first place, saying: “It is irresponsible of the Federal Government to give up part of its security to individuals. The money that would be given to such people should be used to equip the Police and the Navy. If this is done, they will perform better. The plan is simply a political patronage. Those people will not guide anything. It is all part of corruption on the part of the Federal Government.”
Retired Police Commissioner, Abubarkar Tsav, blamed the plan on the desperation of President Jonathan to win the forthcoming presidential election at all costs.
His words: “It is wrong to do such. Jonathan is too desperate. It may be that he wants to use them against Nigerians. We have the Police and the Navy to do that. Why is he bringing in the ex-militants and OPC people to do their job? He has possibly done that because of this election. Jonathan has lost focus and I don’t know what our security chiefs are doing. The security of the country appears not to mean anything to them.”
He warned that: “If we abandon the Police and the Navy that are trained and engage ex-militants who have at one time or the other attacked the country to secure our water ways and oil pipelines, it will spell doom for the country. I was really very sad when I read the story.”
Dr Junaid Mohammed, Second Republic lawmaker, said: “This latest reckless move by Jonathan and the PDP with their collaborators in the Senate and the House of Representatives is an indication of the desperate stand with which the party and the government are prepared to endorse Jonathan at all costs.
“You can’t hire out the functions of the government to an individual no matter how connected they are. If they do that, it means they don’t mind to do anything illegal to win the election. I don’t know the values that ex-militants, Gani, Fasheun and others have to improve the security in our water ways and oil pipelines.”
Barrister Collins Dike, Secretary General of Rivers Lawyers Network, said they are free to get contracts from the Federal Government, but was quick to point out that the matter goes beyond the law.
“From the security perspective, giving the security of the oil pipelines and the water ways to the likes of Tompolo is a serious matter. He was given a similar contract before and with all the money that was given to him by the Federal Government, the security situation became worse. This simply means that they don’t have the capacity to provide such security. What security qualification do they have to even do that?” he said.
Wilson Esangbedo, a security expert, advised the government to remove politics from security issues because the plan could push the country into a crisis.
He said: “The government should know what is right and they should it. The militants can turn the ships meant for securing the waterways against us. They are not professionals and have no professional ethics. Militants are used to taking things by force and if the government refuses to meet their demands, it may have grave consequence.