From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
There is apprehension in Bayelsa State over Tuesday attack on a Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) oil pipeline at Egbemoru community in Southern Ijaw Local Government of the state by suspected militants.
According to investigations the armed men that blew up the pipeline are ex-militant leaders who had easy access to the pipeline since the previous surveillance contractors, Dalong Guardian and Dragon Security on Oil and Gas are no longer securing the pipeline after their contract was suspended by the management of Agip over its plans to review and restructure the contract.
Community sources said the armed men were led by an ex-militant leader simply identified as ‘General’ Endurance.
Endurance who is believed to be a kingpin in oil bunkering business in the area is also involved in a supremacy battle with another ex-militant leader from Peremabiri community also in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
Sources in the community said the attack has forced Agip to shut down its other oil platforms along the Ogboinbiri axis so as to forestall more attacks which would affect its supply route in the area.
A source in the community confirmed that a Save- Our- Soul message has already being sent to the Joint Military Task Force code named Operation Delta Safe to report the activities of the armed gun and awaiting the deployment of security.
“Yes, we have reported their activities to security agencies and we expect them to nip their activities in the bud. Most members of the community are afraid to speak out. These boys engaged in sporadic shooting and they vandalized two Agip pipelines and set them ablaze close to the Beninkurukuru bush. The fire has led to the shutting down of some other facilities in the area.”
It was gathered that the community in its report distanced itself from the activities of the ex-militant pleading with the military to save the community.
Another source said the failure of Agip to secure the pipeline as it was previously done when it had surveillance contractors was what made the ex-militants have the courage to blow up the pipeline.
“This attack would not have happened if Agip had not suspended its contract with the surveillance contractors in the name of plans to review and restructure. The absence of surveillance contracts has made it easy for the oil pipeline to be attacked. Now because there is nobody security the pipeline, oil bunkering which had become a thing of the past when surveillance contractors were monitoring, has come back,” he said.
A senior JTF source, who confirmed the development on condition of anonymity, said the incident is being investigated by the sector 2 command of the Joint Military Task Force in the state.
According to him they are suspecting those involved in the illegal bunkering activities in the area be behind the attack.