Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Daring militants monday blasted an oil pipeline belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Batan community in Warri South West Local Government area of Delta State.
Security sources told THISDAY that the incident occurred at SPDC Camp Five at about 1 a.m. with a huge fire enveloping the site of the attack.
“Suspected militants attacked the SPDC pipeline in Batan at about 1 a.m. with dynamites. As I am speaking, the place is engulfed with fire but efforts are being made to put it off,” one security source said.
Another community source confirmed the incident, stating that they heard a huge explosion around midnight only to discover it was a pipeline belonging to Shell that had been blasted.
He said: “We heard a huge explosion when we were sleeping. We rushed out and found that the Shell pipeline was on fire. We are not sure whether it was militants that caused it or not.”
The Niger Delta Advengers (NDA), the militant group that has claimed responsibility for the destruction of oil facilities in the Niger Delta, was yet to claim responsibility at the time of filing this report.
Instead, the group disclaimed reports of a meeting between itself and the Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, at Oporoza in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Reacting to the minister’s claim that he met with the Avengers at the weekend, the militant group said he must have been duped by fraudsters since it did not send any representatives to “meet with a common minister”.
“The Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung narrated how he met with some self claimed Niger Delta Avengers in Oporoza, Gbaramatu Kingdom. We are here to let the general public know that Niger Delta fraudsters have defrauded the minister.
“Niger Delta Avengers can’t stoop so low to send representatives to meet with a common Minister of Youths and Sports that doesn’t know his work.
“Let us make this clear, any meeting with Niger Delta Avengers that the international community is not part of as witness, we will not be part of any such dialogue,” it said in a press release signed by its spokesperson, Mudoch Agbinibo.
Further investigations by THISDAY also revealed that none of the security agencies were aware of the said visit by the minister.
“We were not aware of the visit by the Minister of Youths and Sports. I should be in the know if we were informed of the visit,” a senior military officer at 3rd Battalion, Effurun said.
The Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, Celestina Kalu, a Superintendent of Police (SP), said she was also not aware of the visit while a senior officer of the Department of State Services (DSS) claimed ignorance of any meeting between the minister and the Avengers.
Meanwhile, the President General of Orogun community in Ughelli North Local Government area of Delta State, Chief Josiah Ntekume, has said that the self-styled militant leader, who threatened to assassinate President Muhammadu Buhari does not hail from that area.
The self-styled militant leader, who identified himself as Ogheneghochuko, had in a video that has gone viral on the social media, threatened to kill Buhari, his family and governors of the South-east region if the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu was not released by month end.
Oghenghochuko, who claimed he was from Orogun and the leader of Biafra Avengers 2, also demanded a Biafra nation in the 8.55-minute video. He used derogatory words against the president and threatened to unleash violence against the state and solicited for youths in the South-east to join any unit of his group closest to them.
But the President General of Orogun community, Ntekume, in an interview with THISDAY, said since the video went viral, an investigation conducted in the area revealed that there was no such person from his community.
He held the view that the man might be a Biafra sympathiser from the South-east claiming to be of Urhobo origin.