By Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos

Civil Society Organisations under the aegis of the National Coalition of Civil Society Groups have urged President Bola Tinubu and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to stop the award of pipeline surveillance contracts to individuals and groups linked with armed rebellion and militancy.

Speaking about the implication of handing over pipeline surveillance to the private sector, while briefing the press in Lagos yesterday, the spokesperson of the coalition Mr Taiwo Adeleye stated that, entrusting pipeline security to those with a militancy background undermines Nigeria’s sovereignty and international reputation, particularly within OPEC.

The coalition said it supports oil pipelines being given to non-state actors but such actors should not be suspected gun runners.

Adeleye urged the president to quickly intervene in the matter by directing the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited NNPCL to cease the award of surveillance contracts to companies led by individuals who have links with militancy.

He held that continuing with the practice by the Federal Government would amount to the government yielding to the demands of militants, rather than upholding the rule of law and ensuring the safety of its citizens.

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“This capitulation threatens to erode public confidence and the authority of the state.

“Arms proliferation in Nigeria is a threat to regional stability. The armed group taking the role of pipeline surveillance contractors is a time bomb. It will push Nigeria to the brink with the passage of time. What we see today undermines International laws and conventions of the United Nations UN”, he said.

The coalition explained that handing over pipelines to armed groups will further undermine the international conventions which include but are not limited to the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear weapons.

He added that one of the major problems of saddling those with militancy backgrounds with surveillance of the pipeline is the proliferation of arms and the fact that many non-state actors are still in possession of illicit weapons.

The coalition held that the shocking attack in Okuama village, resulting in the tragic loss of 17 soldiers, serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of arming those with a history of violence one of which is the proliferation of arms and the fact that many non-state actors are still in possession of illicit weapons. It means the killings of soldiers and civilians in the oil-producing areas may continue.