Militants draw battle line with FG over Osinbajo’s comment
Okon Bassey in Uyo and Sylvester Idowu in Warri with agency report
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the militant group that has claimed responsibility for the orgy of recent bombings of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region, Monday night claimed that it breached the Qua Iboe 48-inch crude oil export terminal pipeline operated by ExxonMobil in Akwa Ibom State.
However, the US oil giant disputed the claim, saying none of its facilities were attack in the state.
Qua Iboe is Nigeria’s largest crude oil stream and ExxonMobil exports more than 300,000 barrels per day from its terminal in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.
The Avengers had claimed in a statement that the attack was carried out at about 7.30 p.m. for ExxonMobil’s refusal to comply with its directive barring it from effecting repair works on any breached facility.
According to a statement signed by its spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, the group said it blew up the ExxonMobil Qua Iboe 48” crude
oil export pipeline at about 7.30p.m.
It said: “At about 7.30p.m. the Niger Delta Avengers blow up ExxonMobile Qua Iboe 48” crude oil export pipeline. When will these international oil companies (IOC) learn to listen? We (Niger Delta Avengers) said no export.”
But ExxonMobil dismissed the claim, stating that no attack had taken place at its facilities. “There were no attacks on our facilities,” said Exxon Mobil spokesman Todd Spitler.
THISDAY investigations however revealed that the Niger Delta Avengers were fooled by locals engaged for the attack on the Qua Iboe facility.
Security sources disclosed that investigations had indicated that the leadership of the Avengers had solicited the assistance of local militants in the area to breach the oil facility.
They said the locals refused to carry out the attack, but claimed to have done so which informed the claim by the Avengers.
“Contrary to earlier information at our disposal, the local militants engaged by the NDA, refused to carryout the attack. Instead, they told the leadership that the exercise was executed and even gave the time when it was carried out.
“That informed the statement by the NDA, but unknown to them the attack was not executed. Those they approach don’t want to be part of the struggle which is seen as Ijaw matter and is being carried out for selfish reasons,” one of the security sources said.
The spokesman of Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, code named Operation Delta Safe, Colonel Isah Ado, refused to pick calls or respond to text messages for clarification on the alleged attack on the Qua Iboe facility.
Meanwhile, a coalition of Niger Delta militant has drawn a battle line with the federal government over Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s recent outburst on them.
The militant groups namely the Niger Delta Volunteers (NDV), Niger Delta Peoples Liberation Movement (NDPLF), and Bakassi Freedom Fighters (BFF) jointly berated the Vice President for saying that the militants were fighting for their pockets and not for the interest of the people of Niger Delta region.
The Vice President was said to have blamed the Niger Delta militants for present economic situation in the country at a lecture on “The future: Here earlier than we thought,” delivered at the second Foundation’s Day Lecture of Elizade University, Ilara Mokin in Ondo State.
The militants in a joint statement signed by the group spokesmen, Ekpo Ekpo for NDV; Henry Etete for NDPLF and Asukwo Henshaw for BFF, fumed that instead of being ridiculed, the vice president should have advised President Muhammadu Buhari on how to address the injustice in the Niger Delta region.
The militant group equally picked loopholes in the statement credited to President Buhari that Nigeria’s unity was not negotiable.
According to the group, the Niger Delta people are tired of one Nigeria filled with injustice, marginalisation, and oppression of other ethnic groups.
They, however, vowed to resume unpleasant activities against oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region.
They also urged PENGASSAN and NUPENG to withdraw their members from oil rigs and platforms for their safety during the period.
The militant reminded members of the public about the expiration of two weeks ceasefire announced on June 27 to enable the government and oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to implement their demands.
The groups also condemned the newly constituted NNPC Board by the President and call for immediate sack of the Group Managing Director and replace him with an indigene of the Niger Delta.
“It is an insult on the Niger Delta region that the Minister of Petroleum who also doubles as the President of Nigeria is from the North, the Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru and four other members of the board are also from the North,” it stressed.
The EFCC was equally invited by the group to investigate what happens to the local government funds in Akwa Ibom, as in the past one year no single local government area in the state had carried out people-oriented projects.