Niger Delta Oil and Gas Monitoring Group (NDO & GMP) has alleged that no less than N200 million has been budgeted to oust the Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF), codenamed Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman.
The group further alleged that about N30 million, out of the N200m budgeted, was disbursed for the World Press Conference held by youth presidents of ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta on Saturday in Warri, Delta State.
But speaking at the press conference, leader of the youths and president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Pereotubo Oweilaemi, Esq, however, denied being sponsored by any oil company to oust the JTF commander, but to intimate the world of illegal crude oil activities ongoing unchecked in some creeks.
NDO & GMP, meanwhile, specifically accused the Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production, operators of Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) of sponsoring campaigns for the removal of the Rear Admiral Suleiman.
The goal of the move by the oil company, the group asserted, is to frustrate the successful mitigation
of oil theft in the Niger Delta region which has brought about a rise in crude oil production in recent times.
The group, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Biukeme
Pereteibo and Secretary, Tolaifa Government, slammed Aiteo management and its Chief Executive Officer, Benedict Peters, for persistently out to scuttle the relative peace enjoyed in the region.
It will be recalled that Aiteo and the JTF commander have been on each other’s throat, with the latter accusing the former of sponsoring the June 1 protest at the Defence Headquarters in
Abuja by a group of youths who were calling for the removal Rear Admiral
Reacting to the protest, the JTF boss had, last week, accused Aiteo of sponsoring the protest which the company reacted to last Thursday on TribuneOnline, absolving Mr. Peters of the allegation.
While reacting to the Thursday’s rebuttal by Aiteo, NDO & GMP further accused Aiteo and its CEO of not only sponsoring the Abuja protest, but also last Saturday’s press conference by Niger Delta Ethnic Youths led by Peretubo Esq who insisted the JTF boss be removed from office.
NDO & GMP insisted in its Monday statement that the money used to print glossy banners and hire buses to convey protesters to Abuja as well as staging the Saturday press conference in Warri was from the alleged N200m budget.
The group further noted that it is obvious in last week’s Aiteo’s reactions, as also published in TribuneOnline and other national dailies that the company is pursuing an agenda to oust the JTF boss at all costs.
“We are aware that Aiteo has been engaged in illegal activities,
including oil bunkering.
“We reported our observations to the JTF. It is the efforts of the security outfit to curb the activities of this company that makes it to react this way by sponsoring the protest and press conferences to impugn on the integrity of the naval boss.
“Is it only Aiteo that is operating in the Niger Delta? If Admiral Apochi is involved in illegal oil bunkering as alleged by Aiteo, why are other IOCs not also complaining?
“The JTF boss is supervising other security agencies like Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, NSCDC and DSS, why are these agencies not reporting to their offices for action?”, the group queried.
NDO & GMP has, however, appealed to the media not to allow themselves to be used by Aiteo management and others to thwart the good job JTF is doing in the region.
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“The oil thieves have a lot of money to throw around to thwart any
process that will disturb their illegal operations. So, we appeal to
the media to be wary of those coming to them with phantom allegations.
“Please, do your investigations properly before any further publications so as not to discourage those trying to change things around for good,” it pleaded while urging the Defence Headquarters to wade into prone the activities of Aiteo to avoid looming crisis in the region.
Meanwhile, the mobile line of Aiteo Group’s Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Ndiana Mathew, was unavailable as of the tile of filing this report, just as text messages sent to his line were not delivered.
The energy firm had, however, last Thursday refuted the claims of NDO & GMP of its involvement in plotting to oust the JTF commander, but insisted he must attend to the weighty allegations levelled against him and the JTF.
“For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, any attempt by the embattled Admiral Suleiman to suggest Aiteo’s involvement in the activities of those who undertook the event or indeed any other related activity is a distraction designed to fail.
“It does not, in any way, detract from the weight of allegations with which Admiral Suleiman has been publicly confronted nor the overwhelming need for him to engage in a process that will allow him to deal with the substantive issues that flow from that event,” Mathew noted.
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