Militants attack surveillance team
Meanwhile, Chairman of Batan community, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, Ogugu Dickson, yesterday, said militants suspected to be members of the Niger Delta Avengers, weekend, attacked a pipeline surveillance team some minutes after blowing up a crude oil trunk line close to the Batan flow station.
Ogugu, who spoke on the Monday night attack, said: “Following Saturday’s attack, at 11p.m, we heard the blasts and a PPMC surveillance team that was patrolling the river decided to drive to the scene of the incident to ascertain the extent of damage.
“Though the point the blasts occurred is less than a kilometre from two military houseboats, the surveillance team, which was roughly six kilometres from the scene of the incident, drove to the scene and were attacked by the vandals, who were still in the vicinity.
“As soon as the hoodlums heard the approaching sound of the speedboat, they opened fire. Luckily for the team, no casualty was recorded.
“Our surveillance team on oil facilities in the area confirmed the attack. They blew up the facility at two separate points. One was on an NNPC pipeline, which is about 800 metres from the manifold.”
CEPEJ condemns attacks
Meanwhile, the Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, has deplored the fresh bombings by the NDA. Coordinator of the group, Sheriff Mulade, said: “The continued bombings of oil and gas facilities is an ill-wind that does the region no good. Rather, it is adversely affecting the environment and slowing down the economy.”
It reiterated its appeal to the Avengers to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign, saying no development can take place in an environment wracked by conflicts.
CEPEJ also appealed to the Federal Government to go ahead with the proposed peace talks, but engage critical stakeholders, not militants. According to the group, negotiating with militants will create room for pseudo groups to emerge.
The group warned that the dialogue committee constituted by the Federal Government should not be a diversionary ploy, explaining that weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari announced the composition of the committee, nothing concrete had happened.
Similarly, Niger Delta Movement for Socio-Economy Inclusion, NDMSEI, an Itsekiri group, blamed the attacks on alleged Ijaw sponsors, saying it was deliberately attacking oil facilities in Itsekiri territory to incite the people.
Beef up security —Itsekiri group
NDMSEI in a statement by the chairman, Oki Ajonibode, said: “We are neither surprised nor disappointed because the manner both federal and state governments are handling this issue of the Niger Delta Avengers will surely lead to more bombings and destruction in the Niger Delta.
“Like we said in our earlier statement, not until the federal and state governments decide to establish military posts (both army and navy personnel) with speed boats to patrol the creeks every second and minute, the attacks will continue. The security operatives have to patrol all the open rivers as well.
“We are saying this to the government because we foresee communal clash/crisis coming again; we are also using this opportunity to call on our people (Itsekiri) and other ethnic nationalities to wake up.
“We are saying this because in the present day Delta State, the Ijaw have three local governments (Burutu, Bomadi and Patani) but the Avengers have not bombed any pipeline within these environments. “They have specific and peculiar areas where they carry out bombings in Bayelsa State and these are places with mixed tribes.
“For instance, in this present bombings, they either go uptown to Warri and Effurun areas or the Itsekiri communities in the riverine areas, or southern Ijaw in Bayelsa where they have mixed tribes to carry out their destruction.”
Military officers feeding fat on crisis
The group told the National Security Adviser, NSA, that some military officers were colluding with the militants and extending the crisis because they were benefiting from the emergency. It said: “We want to inform the National Security Adviser that Niger Delta militants are not like Boko Haram terrorists who kill and maim without reasons or gain some form of financial benefits from it.
“Funds voted to tackle Niger Delta crisis are more than resources put together for 10 federal ministries. Past records are there to show for it. Go and look into the history of JTF past commanders and officers attached to each of the areas in the Niger Delta during the Warri Niger Delta crisis. They have billions in their accounts and acquired property during their stay here.”
Call militants to order —Emami
Meanwhile, former chairman of Delta Waterways and Security Committee, DWSC, Warri, and Itsekiri leader, Chief Ayiri Emami, yesterday, condemned the renewed attacks by militants, saying it was shocking that the Niger Delta Avengers had continued to bomb oil installations, despite negotiations with government.
Emami asked Ijaw leaders to call the militants to order, saying the understanding reached with government was that leaders should call the boys to order, but the Avengers have continued to bomb oil facilities, especially in Itsekiri areas.
He said: “Some of us are opposed to dialogue with criminals, but for the sake of peace, we did not want to say no to the proposal by government. I think everybody is seeing why we said government should not dialogue with them.
“The way these militants are going, I hope nobody will complain if the military goes after them again. They have been given opportunity for peace, for dialogue, but they rejected it.” Vanguard.