- Demands self-rule, not pipeline protection contracts
- Vandalisation will hurt Delta more than FG, says Okowa
By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba and Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Rampaging militants of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) on Thursday night bombed another pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) around Batan community, in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state
In a message on its Twitter handle, the renewed face of militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta said that it carried out the bombing just before midnight on Thursday.
The group noted that it carried out the attack in keeping with its warning that the international oil company should not attempt to fix its strategic pipeline at Abitiye area which the group had blown up recently.
The NDA said that it successfully carried out the bombing of the pipeline despite the fact that the facility was heavily guided by military personnel.
The group while acknowledging the reported meeting of Niger-Delta stakeholders meeting held last Wednesday in Abuja, said it was as an insult to the sensibility of the people of the Niger Delta region, which it said needed independence from the Nigerian federation.
NDA said it was infuriated by talks of the federal government offering the region palliatives including contracts to carry out surveillance of pipelines in the region against vandalism and crude theft.
“The Niger Delta stakeholders’ meeting is an insult to the people of the Niger Delta. What we need is a sovereign state, not pipeline contracts”, it declared.
It further warned via its Tweeter handle: “To the International Oil Companies, IOCs and the Nigeria military, watch out! Something big is about to happen and it would shock the whole world.”
There are growing lamentations by the federal government and other state holders about the huge financial losses due to the drastic cuts created by the series of oil facility bombings just as electricity supply in most parts of the country has hit very low levels owing to shortage of gas supply.
THISDAY recalled that last Thursday night’s bombing of the trunkline took place less than 12 hours after an attack on two Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) facilities, which was said to have grounded the multinational company’s entire swamp operations in Delta State.
The renewed attacks also coincided with NDA’s ultimatum to oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to stop production and move out of the region.
An environmental activist, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, from Gbaramatu Kingdom confirmed the attack but could not point out the exact location of the incident.
“There was an explosion at about 11:15pm, but we have not been able to ascertain the exact point. It was around this area; we have conflicting information: one says it was around Bennet Island, the other says it was Batan. We need to be very concrete with our information”, Mulade said.
The Spokesperson of the Ijaw Youths Congress (IYC), Comrade Eric Omare who also confirmed the attack was however emphatic that the incident occurred at the back of Batan community.
Omare said: “it was at the back of Batan, Warri South-west. I think the facility should belong to NNPC”.
The NDA also rejected the idea of dialogue, pointing out that it was out to secure self-rule for the Niger Delta people, describing the stakeholders’ meeting as an insult to the people of the oil-rich region, threatening more devious actions.
Although there was no official security confirmation of the incident, as none of the top security operatives who could make comments on it were unavailable but a reliable senior naval officer confirmed that an explosion had been recorded close to Egwa 1 area, which the oil fields Batan community is located.
Efforts to get reaction from the NNPC was unsuccessful as the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the corporation, Mallam Garba-Deen Muhammed did not respond to phone calls and text messages sent to him.
The Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS Delta), Warri, Commodore Raimi Mohammed also refused to pick calls and respond to test messages even though the incident took place close to the Naval Base.
Okowa: Pipeline Vandalisation Will Hurt Delta More than FG
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has pleaded with host communities to help end the spate of pipeline bombing, saying the attacks and disruption of oil production was more hurtful to the state that it was even to the Federal Government.
Okowa, who made the appeal during his maiden audience participatory on the Delta Television and Radio Asaba, said that the attacks on pipelines had greatly depleted the state’s monthly revenue from both the federation account and internal sources.
He said that the 13 per cent Derivation Fund accruals were equally affected by the reduction in crude oil production owing to the resurgence activities of the militants as more than 250, 000 barrels of oil per day was being lost or shut in.
He therefore appealed to the people to prevail on those behind the attacks to desist from the act and embrace the option of dialogue as the state was the worse for it when the quantum of oil produced form Delta is drastically reduced.
“The last monthly allocation to Delta State was just N3billion (three billion naira) whereas the state has a monthly wage bill of N7.5 billion. Where are we going to source the shortfall from?”
The governor said that all the people particularly in the waterside areas and creeks should prevail on their children and youths to give peace a chance and cooperate with the government’s effort to negotiate a restoration of peace especially in the oil producing areas of the state.
He said that the high-powered Advocacy Committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro has been visiting different communities in the state government’s efforts to restore peace and ensure security in the state and the Niger Delta as a whole.
He noted that Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) had moved out of the state blaming it on security concerns in Warri area, noting that relocation by Shell meant a huge revenue loss to Delta in terms of tax or royalties as well as loss of jobs for numerous local hands.
INC Begins Consultations with Youths, Ijaw Leaders…
Meanwhile, disturbed by the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta, the apex Ijaw socio-cultural organisation, Ijaw National Congress (INC), yesterday embarked on consultations with Ijaw leaders, youth groups and various associations across 78 Ijaw clans within and outside the region.