The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, has appealed to leaders of ex-militants in the region to eschew comments that could heat up the polity.
This came as the chairman of Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Ifreke Akpan, yesterday expressed concern that despite the N5.6 billion controversial pipeline surveillance contracts awarded to ex-militant leaders by the Federal Government, oil theft in the region was still on the increase.
Kuku, who is also the chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), in a statement made available to THISDAY, said the appeal became necessary in view of the developments involving some of the top leaders of the former agitators in the Niger Delta.
Kuku, in the statement which was signed by the Head of Communications, Presidential Amnesty Office, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the Amnesty Office viewed with serious concern comments credited to some of them as reported in the media in recent weeks.
"My appeal to the leaders of the former agitators is to be circumspect in their comments. They need to be cautious about what they say as it could convey a different meaning to different people and unnecessarily heat up the Niger Delta and the country at large. Such comments have the potential to inflame passion.
"I believe this is the time for them to close ranks and not be seen to be fighting themselves. I urge them to continue to utilise all the available channels of communicating their grievances to the government. Of course, they know that my office is always open to them," the PAP chairman said.
Kuku, however, added that the Amnesty Office for the umpteenth time would wish to clarify that the approved stipends for the former agitators are paid into their bank accounts at the end of every month and not through any of their former leaders.
"Let me emphasise that we do not pay the monthly stipends of these former agitators through their former leaders. Rather we do so through the individual bank account details that they gave to my office. This is an incontrovertible fact that can be verified from any of the banks we use," he said.
Meanwhile, Akpan, who made the remarks at the second Triennial Delegate Conference of the union condemned the proliferation of oil thieves and the dwindling crude oil production in the country.
"Despite the controversial N5.6 billion pipeline surveillance contracts awarded to Niger Delta militant leaders, oil thieves are in business and Nigeria's production is falling," he said.
Challenging the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) to take the war of illegal oil bunkering and sea piracy to the creeks of the Niger Delta, he said it was unfortunate that oil thieves still linger after such huge amount of money had been spent for the protection of the oil pipelines.
The TUC boss equally tasked the National Assembly to ensure the interest of stakeholders and masses were protected in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the in the ongoing constitution amendment.
He also lamented the poor state of federal roads in the country as well as the high rate of poverty in the country.
Nigeria, he said, had been enveloped in "heinous web of poverty, unemployment and insecurity," linking it be the outcome of many years of misrule and corruption in the country.
Akpan called on the Federal Government to demonstrate high level of commitment and capacity to fight corruption which he said was the bane of insecurity facing the country.