EU launches programme to end criminality in Niger-Delta

The European Union (EU) Deputy Head of Mission to Nigeria, Zissimos Vergos, has called for the elimination of factors contributing to criminality in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Vergos called for a paradigm shift in addressing the scourge.

He spoke during the launch of a peace promotion project, tagged: “A Community centred approach to transforming criminality and violence in the Niger Delta”, by a consortium of partners led by the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in Niger Delta (PIND); Search for Common Ground (SFCG); Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) and Academic Associates Peace Works (AAPW) and funded by the EU in Abuja.

Vergos said the EU would endorse inclusive community methods to tackle the underlying factors of violence in the Niger Delta region.

A recent report by PIND revealed that militancy/illegal oil bunkering-related clashes, kidnapping for ransom, communal conflict, mob violence, clashes between rival cult gangs, organised criminality, and separatist are the most prevalent crimes in the region.

He commended the consortium partners for working together to propose an alternative narrative to the interference of violence prevailing in the region, saying the project would help to propose an authentic narrative to the region for sustainable development.

Minister of Niger Delta, Abubakar Momoh, expressed hope that the project would yield the desired impact.

Momoh, who was represented by Special Assistant, James Khanoba, said: “We hope that the ‘Community Centred Approach to Transforming Criminality and Violence in the Niger Delta’ project serves as a compass that guides government towards a more holistic understanding of the problem in the region and the potential pathways to sustainable solutions”.

The Minister said the Niger Delta, with its breath-taking landscape and vast resources, was undeniably a region of immense promises. He, however, added that the promise had been over shadowed by the persistent issues of criminality and violence impeding the growth and prosperity our people rightfully deserves.

According to him, the project is a testament to the unwavering commitment to address these challenges keeping in mind the human dimensions.

Country Director, Search for Common Ground, Fatima Abubakar, said her organisation and the consortium partners have successfully launched the project in Bayelsa, Rivers, and Delta States, where the respective state governments demonstrated their commitment to promoting inclusive community security approaches and addressing the root causes of violence and criminality in the region.

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