The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, His Exellency, Paul Arkwright, yesterday, in Abeokuta Ogun state capital cautioned the Federal Government over military option as a measure to tackle the resurgence of militancy and other criminality in the Oil – rich Niger Delta region.
The High British High Commissioner stated this during an interview in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, shortly after his courtesy visit to the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo.
Arkwright who arrived the Ake Palace at 11am was accompanied by political Counsellor, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, and former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, and Dr Emeka Anyioku, also advocated for dialogue as part of a comprehensive approach that should be adopted by Nigerian government to address the situation, adding that force alone may not bring about a lasting solution to the Niger Delta issue.
Niger Delta Avengers(NDA), an armed militant group, and other violent youth organisations have been launching violent attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta area. This action has forced the Federal Government to respond by deploying troops to the area’s creeks to stop the alleged destruction of national economic assets and spate of sabotage being perpetrated there by the region’s restive youths.
While speaking with newsmen, Arkwright said though, there is the need to protect the investments, not just the British companies and international companies operating there, but also Nigerian companies from acts of criminality going – on in the region, the military should tread softly.
He noted that the Britain is already talking to Nigerian government and its authorities on need to take a “comprehensive approach” and not to rely solely on military option as solution to the Niger Delta militants.
According to him, it is important that the Nigerian government explore ways to engage the communities in the area, understand the grievances of the people and also ensured that the environmental damage is cleaned up. He also suggested that same option should be applied to conclude the fight against Boko haram terrorists in the North East of the country as being canvassed ever since by Britain.
“We need to protect the investment there, not just British companies, international companies but Nigerian companies as well.
“We are talking to Nigerian authorities about that, we need to have what we called a comprehensive approach to this, in other words we need to have dialogue and we need to engage the communities down there. “We need to understand the grievances of the people down there, we need to ensure the environmental damage is cleaned up. “We need to protect the investment there, not just British companies, international companies but Nigerian companies as well.
“When there is criminal activity, (it) is right that the government should take proactive action against that criminal activity, we strongly support them but we don’t think military solution alone is the final solution to handle issues in Niger Delta.
“And to handle Boko Haram in the North, so we need comprehensive approach and that is what we have been talking to the Nigerian government about. “I was very encouraged to hear Hon Minister Ike Chukwu say about the need for dialogue and we are certainly looking to see what we can do to help in dialogue and bring peaceful outcome to what you say is economic threat to this country.”
While speaking on the looted fund stashed in British banks, the British High Commissioner assured that Britain is committed to her intention to return all looted funds from Nigeria back to the country.
He said his country would follow the rule of law and also wait for the judiciary to take a decision on the matter before the loots could be re – directed to Nigeria, its “rightful place.”
He said: “President Mohammadu Buhari make the same point when he was in London for Anti Corruption summit which my Prime Minister setup we need international action to fight corruption.
“We need all the looted funds around the world, including United Kingdom to return to rightful place which is Nigeria, United Kingdom is doing everything we can to ensure that those funds are return to Nigeria. “We have no interest, no intention of keeping the money, we want it to go back to Nigeria, full stop.The issues is that you will understand that United Kingdom just like Nigeria, is a country which respect the rule of law.
“We have independent judicial process, that judicial process need to run it course and we are doing what we can to help accelerate the return of the funds, if there are delays and issues surrounding that, these are delays related to judicial process. ”
And have nothing to do with political will of the British government which my Prime Minister has made it clear and as i have said in the past Umited Kingdom wishes that the funds is return as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, the Alake and Paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo has called for the resuscitation of the British Council Library in his domain as part of contribution of the United Kingdom educational development in the area.
The traditional ruler recalled that the Library which has been in the town, has contributed immensely to the reading and learning culture among the young and the old. He however, lamented that the extinction of the library had brought education development backwards.
He said “We want to request that as you go back, the British Council Library be restored so that the young one can learn more about the world. The monarch recalled that there had been an aged long relationship between Egba and the British, which was dated back to 1843, through Henry Townsend, “who brought a new Bible in 1904, after the first one got burnt. It was that period that we “Treaty of Friendship” by Egba United Government.
Oba Adedotun added “in 1906, the British facilitated Electricity supply into Egba and it also included four key areas of monarchical form of government, education (western), military and cultural link. “During the military, we have some friends including France, British who gave us the wherewithal and logistic supports to win the battle in 1830. In education, you allowed us to produce the first medical doctor and engineer.”