Military on High Alert as Militants Declare N’Delta Republic Today

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  •  Residents flee communities in Bayelsa  NPDC pipeline attacked again

By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa and Sylvester Idowu in Warri

Barring any last minute changes, the Adaka Boro Avengers (ABA), a group of Ijaw militants, which has vowed to declare the independent Republic of Niger Delta, may today make good its threat.

But without mincing words, the Nigerian military has warned that the declaration by the little known warlords would be met with the strongest resistance, adding that it would not allow anybody to hold the country to ransom.

However, following the threat to declare the Republic of Niger Delta, residents of several Ijaw communities are not leaving anything to chance and have started to flee Kaiama, the hometown of the late Major Jasper Adaka Boro in Kolokuma Opukuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

Without mentioning names, but in apparent reference to the group, the Joint Task Force Commander in the Niger Delta, codenamed Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, told journalists yesterday that the Nigerian Armed Forces would not abdicate their responsibility to protect lives, property and the territorial integrity of the country.

Describing the group’s threat to secede as “faceless”, Okojie asked the people of the region to go about their normal duties, noting that no group or individual could stop anybody from any region in the country to go about their normal business.

“This is to reassure the good people of the Niger Delta that Operation Delta Safe is firmly on the ground to protect them,” he said.

However, the ABA had said after meeting with other militant groups in the region that it had concluded arrangements to declare the Niger Delta region as an independent republic from August 1.

It also gave the federal government an ultimatum to withdraw its personnel and establishments from the region before today.

While ordering people from other regions to vacate its territory, the group, in a statement by its spokesman, “General” Edmos Ayayeibo, also asked the federal government to move out all military personnel and all government agencies out of the Niger Delta.

On the demand that people from other regions should move out immediately, ABA said: “If they refuse to heed to our warning, we will use so many as example in the Niger Delta region on the due date.”

Reacting to the threat, some Niger Delta elders and leaders of thought of Ijaw extraction, led by Chief Edwin Clark had on Saturday in Warri, Delta State, cautioned the militants against such threats.

The elders said what Ijaw nation wanted was true federalism and the immediate restructuring of the Nigerian nation to enhance development, progress and peace.

Residents Flee

However, the threat by the group of militants to declare an independent Republic of Niger Delta today appeared to be working, as there was a massive exodus of residents of Kaiama, the home town of late Major Jasper Adaka Boro in Kolokuma Opukuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

The residents were said to have fled the community for fear of military attacks to quell the proposed rebellion by the militant group.

The leadership of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), who confirmed the mass movement yesterday, however, said there was no plan to declare Niger Delta Republic and urged the people to discountenance the threat by ABA.

IYC called on residents of Kaiama town to be calm and go about their normal activities, assuring them that there was no plan by the Ijaw people to declare a republic and the threat by ABA should be completely disregarded.

“We wish to warn groups and individuals not to further expose Ijaw and Niger Delta communities to unnecessary tension and danger.

“The growth in modern means of information technology should not be abused to the detriment of our communities by issuing unnecessary threats and ultimatums,” it warned.

According to a statement by IYC spokesman, Eric Omare, the leadership of the Ijaw body had been inundated with calls in the last 24 hours relating to the threat by the group called the Adaka Boro Avengers to declare a republic from the 1st day of August, 2016 at Kolokuma Opukuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and the massive movement of residents from the community for fear of military attacks.

“The IYC called on security agencies to stop forthwith unnecessary threats and attacks on Ijaw and other Niger Delta communities because of threats by faceless groups.

“The Ijaw nation has a leadership and they should also check with the leadership on issues of security concern instead of threatening or attacking innocent communities and people,” it added.

The Ijaw youths also said there was considerable apprehension among Ijaw people resident in the South-west as a result of the expiration of the ultimatum issued by the Reformed Odua Peoples Congress because of the attacks by unknown gunmen in parts of Lagos and Ogun States.

On the ultimatum and threat by the Reformed Odua Peoples Congress, the IYC called on South-west group members and the leadership of the Yoruba nation to allow security agents to do their constitutional duties by apprehending the criminals responsible for the Ogun and Lagos attacks.

“As of this morning (yesterday), information at the disposal of the IYC indicates that some Ijaw people resident in Lagos and Ogun States, for fear of attacks, are already relocating from their places of residence to the South-south.

“The IYC seriously warns against attacks on innocent Ijaw people in the South western part of the country, as it would result in unnecessary reprisals in parts of the South-south where Yoruba people are resident as well.”

Again, NPDC Pipeline Bombed

But with tension rising in the oil-rich Niger Delta, this did not stop suspected militants from blasting a 24-inch oil pipeline belonging to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in Odimodi community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State on Saturday night.

The NPDC 24-inch Brass Creek to Forcados Terminal pipeline, popularly called the Trans Ramos trunk line, conveys crude oil from oil well heads in Bayelsa State to Shell’s Forcados Terminal in Delta State.

Security sources told THISDAY yesterday that the incident occurred at 11 p.m. with a huge fire enveloping the site of the attack.

“Suspected militants attacked the NPDC 24-inch Trans Ramos trunk line operated by NPDC in Odimodi at about 11 p.m. with dynamites. As I am speaking, concerted efforts are being made to put out the fire in the area,” a security source said.

Another community source confirmed the incident, stating that they heard a huge explosion late Saturday night only to discover that it was a pipeline belonging to NPDC that had been blasted.

“We heard a huge explosion when we were about to retire for the night. We rushed out and found that the NPDC pipeline was on fire. We are not sure whether it was militants that caused it or not,” he said.

It was gathered that the militants had made an attempt last week on the said pipeline, but the attack was foiled by local vigilantes and soldiers.

The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the militant group that has claimed responsibility for the destruction of oil facilities in the Niger Delta, was yet to comment on the latest pipeline breach at the time of filing this report.

Also, the Media Relations Manager of NPDC, Mr. Ugo Atugboko, could not be reached to comment on the attack, as his phone was switched off.