The Bonny Gentlemen’s League, a frontline socio-cultural group, has in no uncertain terms commended the effort of Governor Wike towards eradicating the activities of criminals in Rivers state, while also demanding that the Bonny Waterways should be given primacy in the allocation of the new gunboats to be donated to the Security agencies by the State government.
In a communique issued by the group during their April 2021 Congress Meeting, the League noted that “In the past, the people and residents of Bonny Kingdom grappled only with safety concerns along the Bonny waterways, due to the sub-standard ferries plying the heavy seas between Bonny and Port Harcourt which resulted in frequent boat mishaps/loss of lives and property. This hazardous situation is now exacerbated by the daily criminal activities of gangsters/pirates, which have made any trip to and from Bonny, a clear and present danger and a life-threatening exercise as there is no guarantee of safe arrival to your destination”.
Earlier in the week, Governor Wike had donated some vehicles to the security agencies in the state in order to help them combat the menace of crime in the state. But the governor also cautioned them against diverting the donated operational vehicles and equipment to other states. He cited an instance where the state got two armoured helicopters worth $10million to fight criminals in the state, only for the helicopters to be diverted to fighting Boko Haram.
In his words, “Rivers State government paid over $10million (for the armoured helicopters). We said it should be used to fight oil bunkers here, but ask me where are those helicopters today? The (Airforce) headquarters have taken it, saying they are fighting Boko Haram. But we bought it to fight criminals here, to fight oil bunkers here, but they have taken it.”
Speaking further, Governor Wike said the State will also give five gunboats each to Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and Police to tackle sea piracy. “But let the gunboats remain within the territory of Rivers State. I am not here to buy gunboats for any other state. I am buying gunboat for the protection of the people that do business and live in Rivers State and their property. Don’t carry our gunboat and say the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, IG said bring the gunboat to so, so place. Every state is to protect their territory. The day I hear you take our gunboats to other state, I will collect them back.”
Riding on the wings of this development, and in view of the dire security situation along the Bonny waterways, and considering Bonny Kingdom’s strategic economic importance to the nation, the Bonny Gentlemen’s League hereby requests the governor to allocate and dedicate at least 6 of the 15 gunboats to the Bonny marine corridor for aggressive surveillance patrols/programmed security escort services to ensure the security and safety of passengers and vital installations on the Island. The gunboats should also be designated and annotated “DONATED BY THE RIVERS STATE GOVERNMENT FOR THE EXCLUSIVE SECURITY PATROL OF BONNY WATERWAYS”. This would enhance accountability and ownership.
The Chancellor of the League, Amaopusenibo (Squadron Leader) Olam Allwell-Brown (Rtd), also drew the attention of the government to the continued incarceration of five (5) Bonny sons kidnapped on September 12, 2020, and called on the security agencies, including the re-launched Rivers State Security outfit, C.4.I., to take concrete steps to effect their release and reunion with their families