ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, YENAGOA
The government of Bayelsa State has restated its call on the Federal Government to speed up action on the formation of a Federal Marine Safety Corps (FMSC) to effectively address security challenges on the waterways in the country.
Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo made the call on Tuesday when a delegation from the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF) paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Yenagoa.
Ewhrudjakpo pointed out that establishing the marine equivalent of the existing Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) would help in the fight against sea piracy, kidnapping and other crimes in the Niger Delta.
He said that policing the creeks of Bayelsa demanded a lot of logistics, noting that the state needed more support in terms of gunboats to enable the marine division of the state Police Command to effectively secure the creeks.
Ewhrudjakpo expressed the state government’s preparedness to collaborate with the Federal Government on security, adding that the FMSC would support other security agencies to safeguard critical national assets such as oil facilities in the state.
According to him, until the Federal Government and the 36 states work closely together to fight against insecurity, Nigeria will not be able to achieve sustainable peace and tranquillity.
Expressing delight over the infrastructure projects earmarked by the Nigeria Police Trust Fund for Bayelsa, Ewhrudjakpo said the projects would go a long way to complement the efforts of the state government in the security sector.
The Deputy Governor, who passed a vote of confidence in the Commissioner of Police, CP Ben Nebolisa Okolo, and his team, expressed hope that the visit of the NPTF would facilitate the take-off of the Marine Police Training Institute at Toru-Orua in Sagbama Local Government Area.
Ewhrudjakpo said: “Our security challenges are more in the riverine areas and if we are able to properly police those areas, we would have done a lot to boost our security architecture.
“So, we need more gunboats to help police on our rivers and rivulets and help cover, where we believe, are to be their (criminals) escape routes. This will also help improve our oil production.
“That is why we have been calling on the Federal Government to establish a marine safety corps just as we have the Road Safety Corps to effectively police our waterways
“We are ready to collaborate with you on the provision of a Police Headquarters as the present headquarters is not befitting. We believe you can do your own contribution in your 2022 budget so that we can come and assist you to get a befitting Police Headquarters.”
Earlier in her remarks, the leader of the team, Mrs Gladys Odegbaro, explained that the Nigeria Police Trust Fund officials were on an inspection visit to police formations under Zone 16, which has its headquarters in Bayelsa.
Odegbaro, who is a board member of the NPTF, said the fact-finding visit would enable them to know the basic needs of the various police divisions in the state.
She said the NPTF in its current budget had earmarked to rehabilitate the Sagbama and Ekeki police stations as well as provide some infrastructure at the Marine Police Training Institute, Toru-Orua, police driving school and staff quarters.
While requesting the state government’s support in the building of a more befitting headquarters for Police in the state, Odegbaro promised to convey the requests for gunboats to the appropriate quarters for action.