■ Panic as new militant groups emerge
FROM PAUL OSUYI, ASABA AND FEMI FOLARANMI, YENAGOA
Members of the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers yesterday claimed responsibility for blowing up the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Fordacos 48 Exportline in Delta State.
Besides, the group blew up the Ogboinbiri to Tebidaba and Clough Creek to Tebidaba Crude Oil pipelines in Bayelsa State in the early hours of Friday.
NDA wrote on its Twitter handle yesterday that the latest action was “in line with our promise to all international oil companies and indigenous oil companies that Nigeria oil production will be zero.”
However, the group denied the killing of six persons including two soldiers and four civilians who were reportedly murdered in their sleep on a houseboat in Warri, Delta State, claiming that no blood of a Nigerian soldier would be “wasted” by the NDA.
“The Niger Delta Avengers were not involved in the attack of the Military houseboat around Warri, Delta State. Killing of sleeping Soldiers is not our style.
“We promise the world that in this process of liberating our people, not a single blood of Nigeria soldiers will be wasted despite the provocation,” the group said.
The NDA has claimed responsibility for some recent attacks on ENI, NNPC, Chevron and Shell facilities. The series of attacks have seen the country’s oil production plummeted to a 20-year low.
The Bayelsa state Command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) Friday confirmed attacks on crude oil pipelines operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Bayelsa.
Mr Desmond Agu, Commandant of NSCDC in Bayelsa confirmed the attack on Agip’s Ogboinbiri-Tebidaba and Clough Creek-Tebidaba Crude Oil pipelines in Bayelsa in a telephone interview.
“The pipelines located within Agip’s oil fields were attacked, we got the reports that the pipeline was attacked when it has been shut down, so there is no loss of crude or leak.
“We have dispatched our men and we have intensified patrols in the area, we are working round the clock to protect critical infrastructure in Bayelsa,” Agu said.
Meanwhile confusion and panic have enveloped the Niger Delta region as more militant groups have emerged with the agenda to unleash violence in the region.
The emergence of one of the new militant groups which was responsible for the killing of two soldiers and four civilians in an attack on a Nigeria National Petroluem Corporation ( NNPC) houseboat in Warri Delta state is now a source of concern to the Niger Delta Avengers( NDA) which renewed insurgency in the region in February.
There are heightened fears in the region that the activities of the new militant groups claiming to be affiliated to the NDA would pave the way for full military onslaught in the region with the killing of soldiers as an excuse.
Another group, Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force had issued a 48 hours ultimatum to the military to vacate the Niger Delta or face the wrath of the group.
The NDA sensing the danger in allowing the other groups to operate without caution was forced to issue a statement dissociating it from the attack on the military.
“The Niger Delta Avengers were not involved in the attack of the military houseboat around Warri, Delta State. Killing of sleeping Soldiers is not our style. We promised the world that in this process of liberating our people, not a single blood of Nigerian soldiers will be wasted despite the provocation.
“Even the inhumane Nigerian soldiers are exempted, our war is on oil installations, not to take innocent lives. For the fact (that) we can’t give life, we also don’t have the power to take any life. But we (Avengers) are assuring the families of the affected soldiers that we will bring the culprits to book”, the NDA spokesman Brig Gen Mudoch Agbinibo said.
He warned all groups parading themselves as freedom fighters to focus on the fight for the Niger Delta and not in the killing of soldiers, noting that the days of kidnapping and killings are over.
Investigations revealed that the emergence of the new groups has complicated the crisis in the Niger Delta region as security agencies are confused on the best approach to solve the resurgence of militancy in the region.
Meanwhile, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has condemned the recent killing of Nigerian soldiers, and other civilians, who were in a houseboat attack, in Omadino, Warri South Local Government Area of the state, by suspected Militants.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, Governor Okowa noted that this killing was criminality carried too far as nothing justified the taking of lives of uniformed security men who were out to protect the common property of Nigerians.
“Your activities could turn Delta State into a theatre of war and this portends great danger to the whole population aside from casting the image of the state as insecure and unfit for investment. We cannot, as a state, afford this rascality if we hope to make progress,” he said.
Okowa who recalled his earlier appeals on any aggrieved member of the society including Niger Delta militants, to embrace dialogue, observed that this informed the decision by his government to constitute an advocacy committee which went round the creeks and oil producing communities, to canvass support for a violence-free Delta- as a precondition for development.
Noting that no society can develop in an atmosphere of chaos and criminality and that no government would fold its hands in the face of this high level of aggravation and utter disregard for the sanctity of human lives, the governor called on Deltans to rally round government to bring the perpetrators to book.
“For the umpteenth time, I wish to call on well-meaning people of Delta State to speak up and not only condemn the activities of these militants but also offer their best counsel and commitment towards resolving this crisis,” Okowa said.
He extended the condolences of his family and the people of Delta State to the families of the victims and prayed God to grant them eternal rest while urging the security agencies to ensure that the culprits do not go scot free.
Governor Okowa also advised members of the Niger Delta Avengers to embrace dialogue as a means of resolving the crisis, adding that a peaceful and secured state is what is needed for development to thrive.