By Sunny Akaniyene, Calabar
Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, has urged Federal Government to integrate militants operating in Bakassi Local Government area of the state into the amnesty programme for youths in the Niger Delta region.
He spoke at the commissioning of the Eastern Regional Control Centre (ERCC) of the Falcon Eye Project interventionist initiative of the Eastern Naval Command Headquarters in Calabar.
Ayade said it is pertinent that the Federal Government provides alternative source of livelihood for them, so they turn away from criminality.
The Falcon Eye Project initiated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) is to step up surveillance in the nation’s waterways to check piracy, oil theft and other criminalities in the maritime domain.
Ayade pleaded, “As you set us this Falcon Eye project, be conscious of the fact that that also automatically means that most of the pirates and all the militant activities around the waterways will evaporate.
“But those brothers and sisters of ours that have been practicing this militancy will have to find an alternative means of livelihood because Falcon Eye will pick them. And because that is real, anthropologically, it is the responsibility of the government, which is a bigger partner in the security structure to ensure that we provide an alternative in the first instance.
“It is refusing to accept that alternative that the full wrath of the law will catch up with them. I therefore plead that there should be haste to ensure that Cross River State is integrated into the amnesty program. It is critical for us because I believe that it is when people are pushed to the wall that criminality becomes an alternative livelihood.
“Sadly the security report is very clear. If you study it very well, a lot of the criminality that have occurred in the state is not orchestrated by Cross Riverians but people who have migrated from areas where they have superior military power and have moved into Bakassi and have made it unbearable. Therefore an amnesty programme that will enhance all of these people will help us create even a safer environment for us to work.”
Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ekwe Ibas, says the Falcon Eye Project has boosted anti-piracy efforts in the country’s maritime domain.
He said the project has facilitated several detections of maritime crimes, interrogation and accosting of suspicious vessels, regional traffic analysis, and application to the urgency of search and rescue operations among others.
He said the Falcon Eye system is aimed at presenting a complete, clear, detailed and updated picture of Nigeria’s maritime domain.