Pipeline Attacks: Minister Bars Delta Government Officials From Visit To Bomb Scene
BEVERLY HILLS, January 19, (THEWILL) – Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Monsur Mohammed Dan-Ali (Rtd), on Tuesday, refused to allow representatives of the Delta State government accompany military personnel to the scene of multiple pipeline attacks in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area.
THEWILL had exclusively reported on Monday that Minister of Defence, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali as well as Chief of Defence Staff, Major-Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin will storm Delta state and proceed to creeks for on-the-spot assessment of the damaged oil and gas facilities in the state.
At the naval base in Warri on Tuesday, where the Minister and other top hierarchy of military converged for onward movement to the creek, serious drama ensued as Delta state government officials led by the deputy governor, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro were disallowed from embarking on the trip.
Sources said that the Minister was miffed that the state government officials were hiding under his visit to embark on a trip to scene of attack on Federal Government asset in their domain when they ought to be there before now.
THEWILL learnt the development created serious embarrassment to the state government official as soldiers allegedly ordered the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon Festus Ovie Agas as well as the Director General, Security Matters to the governor, Hon. David Towne who were already seated in the gunboat about conveying military personnel to the scene, to disembark immediately.
The source said that the state Deputy Governor, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro, who was standing by when the drama was playing out had reportedly instructed the SSG to represent the state government in the trip while he stayed back following the backlash which their presence had generated.
Rather, the Minister was accompanied on the visit by the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin, as well as Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ete Ekwe.
Addressing newsmen after the inspection tour, the Defence Minister said that efforts have been intensified in manhunt for the culprits of last week's multiple attacks on oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta region.
“I came here to intensify assistance to the armed forces and encourage them more with equipment that will help them to bring down these criminals,” he said.
“This is improvised explosive device (IED) explosion, while pointing at debris of IED on the scene, adding; “I believe it was well arranged and well planned. You can see the magnitude of the explosion. I believe this will be taken care of by members of our armed forces.
When asked about those suspected to have carried out the attack, the retired Brigadier General said, “We are still looking for them and the Joint Task Force (JTF) commander has assured me that they will get to the root of it.”
The minister had before proceeding to the creeks warned military officers who gathered to welcome him at the 3 Battalion, to desist from conniving with criminals as the present administration would not pardon anyone caught in such act.
Meanwhile, THEWILL learnt that one suspect has been arrested in connection with the attack.
Story by David Oputah