• State govt, police refute claim
From Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the militant group, which has claimed responsibility for most attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta, claimed responsibility for blown up pipeline of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Akwa Ibom State, yesterday.
The militants made the claim in a tweet yesterday.
“At 4:00am @NDAvengers blow up NNPC Pipeline in Oruk Anam Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom,” the tweet read.
In swift reactions, Akwa Ibom State Government and the Police refuted the claim.
First was Commissioner of Information and Communications, Mr. Aniekan Umanah who that “there is no iota of truth in the claims making rounds in the social media,” of NDA’s action.
He said what happened was an eruption occasioned by leakage in the old pipeline of the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) which traversed the area.
Police corroborated government’s version through the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Murtala Mani.
He reiterated that the alleged vandalism was an accident caused by a leakage in the gas pipelines. He said it was a technical problem and that some engineers from Port Harcourt were working to rectify the leakage.
Mani assured the state is safe from the activities of the militant group.
However, the explosion is coming few days after the group listed conditions for negotiation with the government.
The exploded gas pipeline, which is owned by Septa (Seven) Energy Ltd., the operators of Ibom Gas Power Plant in Uquo in Esit-Eket local government area of the state runs through Ikot Osutek, a community situated along Ikot Abasi-Ogoni-Port Harcourt axis of the East West Road.
In a statement issued by Muduch Agbinibo, its spokesman, on Monday, the militants said they desired a “genuine attitude” from the government before it would commit to any dialogue. They warned government against “social media agitators” whom, they claimed, were being sponsored by politicians. “The high command of the NDA is using this medium to restate that there are no new items to put on the table for dialogue, we only want a genuine attitude and conducive atmosphere that will make us commit to any proposed dialogue and last peace talk.
“We want the Federal Government to commit members states of the multinational oil corporations to commit independent mediators to this proposed dialogue; we believe that it is only such environment that will engender genuine dialogue that will be aimed at setting up a framework for achieving the short, medium and long term demands of the Niger Delta.” to de-escalating this conflict and bring about lasting peace.”
Meanwhile, According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the gas pipelines are owned by Seven Energy Company, the operator of Ibom Gas Power Plant, Uquo in Esit-Eket Local Government Area of the state. Ikot Osutek community, the location of the gas pipelines, is along Ikot Abasi-Ogoni-Port Harcourt axis of the East-West Road in Akwa Ibom.
Further reports had it that many residents of the state were disturbed by the alleged attack, due to the revelation that the militant group had vandalised 23 gas pipelines since February 14.
Also, Akwa Ibom State Government debunked rumours of pipeline bombing in Ikot Osute, Oruk Anam local government area, even as it calls for calm among citizens who may have been troubled by the purported development.
Reacting to the rumours after a visit to the site, the Commissioner for Information
Another militant group emerges, vows to sabotage Egbin Power Station
• Ex-agitators give FG 7-day ultimatum to pay allowances
From Paul Osuyi, Asaba and Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
RESIDENTS of Utorogun community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State were stunned yesterday when they woke up to see a banner message announcing the birth of another militant group, Utorogun Liberation Movement (ULM).
The residents were seen discussing the development in hush tunes after sighting the message on the banner, which was hoisted near the Motor Park in Jeremi, headquarters of the council area.
The group threatened to destroy oil assets in the Niger Delta region.
According to the message, the primary target of the group is the Utorogun Gas Plant which fields gas to the Egbin Power Station, Lagos, among prime oil and gas targets under Oil Mining Lease (OML) 34 in Ughelli South and Udu council areas of the state.
In the message signed by General K. Omovudu, ULM also declared secessionist intention in collaboration with “outgas force.”
Regardless, former militants in Niger Delta region have given the Federal Government seven-day ultimatum to pay their outstanding allowances or face massive protest.
Chairman of Phase 2 Federal Government Amnesty Programme, Salvation Ibena Rufus, who stated this in a statement in Yenagoa, said the government should ensure adequate funding of the amnesty programme to discourage from militants from joining the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA). According to him, many of the former militants have been persuaded not to unleash violence in the region to salvage the amnesty programme and ensure peace in the Niger Delta region. He regretted the activities of NDA, which, he said has affected oil production.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has accused the Federal Government and military of breaching the ceasefire they declared by attacking their communities.
IYC Spokesman, Eric Omare in a statement said Ijaw communities are still being invaded with the recent arrest of six youths. He said while the IYC frowns at sabotage of oil facilities, the continued invasion and harassment of innocent Ijaw people by the military in the guise of looking for pipeline vandals is not acceptable.
He warned that the Federal Government should be held responsible for the instability of the region, adding that it has demonstrated insincerity of purpose.
The statement read in part: “The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), worldwide expresses doubt about the sincerity of the Federal Government to dialogue with the Niger Delta people. The Federal Government cannot in one breath declare ceasefire and at the same time forcefully invade Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom of Delta State allegedly looking for militants…”
Troops foil bombing of Agip pipeline
From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Joint Force Operation Pulo Shield has foiled an attempt by some suspected militants to blow up a Nigeria Agip Oil Company pipeline in Okpoama, Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The suspected militants had completed plans to blow up the pipeline and were waiting for the time to detonate before soldiers discovered the plans and thwarted it.
Coordinator of the Joint Media Campaign Centre (JMCC), Col. Isa Ado confirmed the development in a statement and said suspected vandals “had dug and deployed dynamites beneath the pipeline location in a swamp for detonation before the troops discovered it.”
He said items recovered from the scene included two dynamite detonators, cable wire and battery.
He also confirmed arrest of three suspected coordinators of several pipeline bombings in the region.
“One of the arrested suspects, John Oboka also known as Jamaica, confessed to being part of the group that bombed the Nigerian Petroleum Developing Company (NPDC) crude oil pipeline at Escravos, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Several bombing equipment were recovered from the bombers,” he said and assured that the military would continue to clamp down on fleeing criminals.
Ritman University holds first matriculation today
Ritman University, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, holds its first matriculation ceremony today.
Highlights of the event is the graduation of the first set of students, installation of the first Chancellor, Senator Godswill Akpabio and groundbreaking of an ultra-modern N700 million worth community centre complex by Governor Udom Emmanuel. Also, the governor’s wife will declare open the university’s female hostel.
The university prides itself as aiming to build qualified and outstanding future leaders.
Vice Chancellor, Prof. Celestine Ntuen always tells his students: “I charge you to start now to dream dreams because you are the future for finding many solutions to our society’s daunting problems, such as finding medical tools for curing diseases, providing food security and fighting hunger, discovering alternative energy sources, inventing technology for our national security, and contributing to robust business and industrialisation advancement.”
Ritman University was granted approval on February 25, 2015 by the Federal Government and given licence to operate on March 5, 2015 by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
Also the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) gave a nod for it to admit students shortly after.
Prof. Ntuen was vice chancellor for Research and Economic Development at North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University (NCAT), where he doubled as director of United States Army Centre for Human-centric Command and Control Decision Making.
Among his many achievements as an academic included an award for Productivity in Government from USA Vice President Al Gore and research grants of more than $18.5 million won.
Tonny Dogun II, Ritman University’s Registrar, who was erstwhile Registrar at Benson Idahosa University, had a meritorious career at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he rose to the position of Deputy Registrar and earned acclaim as an award-winning, meticulous administrator, leader, mentor and teacher. Almost 90 per cent of academic staff hold Doctoral Degrees and are selected on the basis of their achievements and experience in teaching, research and consultancy.
Niger Delta crisis: Consider our plight, Delta children beg militants
From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
CHILDREN in Delta State yesterday appealed to members of Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to stop attack on oil facilities and consider the plight of the vulnerable group in the event of a full blown war in the Niger Delta region.
Avengers, which have been claiming responsibilities for series of attacks in the region, had in their previous statements vowed not to spill human blood in the sabotage of oil installations.
But the children are apprehensive that there might be a full-scale war in the face of provocation following the invasion of the region by military in search of the elusive militants
At a forum in Asaba organised to mark this year’s Day of African Child with the theme: ‘Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting All Children’s Right’, participants drawn from various schools reviewed the impacts of war on the civilian populace particularly on children in some African countries.
They said the impact of war could better be imagined than experienced as children were forced to live as refugees.
The children, therefore, appealed to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to find lasting solution to the crisis in the region and avoid the war episodes in countries such as Burundi, Somalia, Congo, and Sudan.
Meanwhile, Governor Okowa who had sought the face of God in the present crisis of the Niger Delta region, expressed confidence in the ability of God to end the situation.
Okowa spoke in Warri at a special prayer session for God’s intervention in the Niger Delta crisis organised by South-South branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in conjunction with the state chapter of the Christian body.
The governor, who was represented by his Special Assistant on Special Duties, Tiereri Avwomakpa, said “there is nothing that is impossible before God and through His Holy book, the Bible, He made us know that what we ask of Him, He will grant us.”
Chairman of CAN, South-South, God-Dowell Avwomakpa said the prayer session will feature fasting and prayers as they seek the face of God for peace to reign not only in the Niger Delta region but also in the country.