Sep 27, 2008

Ogoni: Committee to Advise Federal Government

Active ImageThe Niger Delta Technical Committee has been urged to make recommendations to improve the situation in the Niger Delta.

Below is and article published by Punch:

Three weeks after its inauguration by Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, the Niger Delta Technical Committee will next week commence its plenary session in Abuja. 

The committee, headed by Mr. Ledum Mitee, the President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), was inaugurated on September 8 [2008] to review all previous reports made on the Niger Delta region. 

Addressing the members, the vice-president had said that the Federal Government would take seriously all the recommendations to be made by the committee and urged it to bring out, wherever they would be found, reports on the region. 

But a source told our correspondent that the committee was yet to start work on the final report to be submitted to the Federal Government. 

Currently, he said members had gone back to consult with various interest groups and institutions in their states and communities to obtain their input for the committee’s work. 

He revealed that the Federal Government had passed onto the committee the previous reports it had on the Niger Delta, but added that some of such documents might have lost relevance with time. 

He said, “The government has given us what they have, but we have discovered that some new developments have taken place since such reports were prepared. 

“That is why we have gone ahead to consult with our communities, groups, opinion leaders and even the people in the creeks so as to get their positions which will be incorporated into the final report. 

“We want the outcome of our work to address the concerns of all the interests in the region and that is why we have applied a process-based approach to it.” 

The source, who is a member of the technical committee, however, lamented the recent face-off between the Joint Task Force and the militants in Rivers State. 

He said the crisis had stalled access to the militants’ groups, whose camps were located in creeks in the region and called for restraint on the part of parties involved in the fighting. 

But a coalition of militant groups under the auspices of the Niger Delta Watchdog on Thursday condemned the attack on communities in Rivers State. 

The group, in a statement signed by its President-General, Okara and Secretary-General, Mr. Sam Ebiye, said the arrest of 229 persons from the Port Harcourt Waterfronts was an infringement on the rights of the victims. 

The group noted, “The claim of arresting 218 militants at the waterfronts is an indication of the extent of human rights abuses in Rivers State. 

“The waterfronts the JTF claimed to have raided is inhabited by predominantly poor people of the state, but is poverty a crime? We advise the JTF to show professionalism in our region so that they don’t exacerbate the rate of insecurity.”