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Okowa Shun Passing Out Parade Of Over 3, 000 HOSCON Surveillance Personnel

By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba
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Angered with the setback the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF), suffered in the hands of the Nigerian Police in Port Harcourt, Rivers State last week Friday, Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, Saturday, boycotted the Passing Out Parade (POP) of over 3, 000 Deltans recruited to protect oil installations in the Region.

It was reliably gathered that PANDEF, is rightly the group, Okowa, belongs to in championing the Niger-Delta Peace Process against the programme of President Muhammadu Buhari, who gave his consent to the training of 10, 000 youths from Host Communities Of Nigeria (HOSCON) Producing Oil and Gas across the nine Niger Delta States.

Following the attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta Region in recent times, it was learnt that President Buhari had met with HOSCON and appointed Bishop Dr Mike Emuh, as the National Chairman of HOSCON to train surveillance personnel who would protect oil and gas installations and also award surveillance contracts to HOSCON.

It would be recalled that there was outrage at the police stopping of a meeting of the general assembly of Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

PANDEF leaders said the action was dangerous because it would send a bad signal that the government does not appreciate the role the group has been playing to rein in militants and other aggrieved groups in the volatile Niger Delta region.

It was gathered that as early as 7:00 a.m. police operatives from the Rivers State Command barricaded Birabi Street leading to Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, venue of the aborted meeting, and prevented delegates, including monarchs and human rights activists from accessing the place.

The security agents said they were directed by the Police High Command to disrupt the meeting following a threat by a new militant group, Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, to blow up critical oil installations if the PANDEF meeting went ahead.

It was learnt from sources in the PANDEF that the primary agenda for the general assembly was to approve the group's constitution and hold an election.