*As stakeholders meet on insecurity in region
Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Suspected militants in the early hours of Friday blew up another gas pipeline being operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) at Owhrode and Orhuwhorun in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State.
The bursted pipeline supplies gas to the defunct Delta Steel Company (DSC) at Aladja in Orhuwhorun community in Udu Local Government Area.
The incident took place barely a few hours to the commencement of a stakeholders’ meeting organised by elders and leaders of the various ethnic nationalities in the region held in Warri.
Security sources disclosed that about two pipelines operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company were affected in the incident which occurred about 2am.
A new militant group, Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, sources said, was behind the attack.
A technical team of NPDC and security officials have been deployed to the area to prevent the spread of crude to other communities.
President General of Owhrode community, Mr. Michael Odjo, while confirming to THISDAY that they heard the sound of the explosion and immediately he mobilised his co-executive members, youths and members of the local vigilante to the points of oil facilities in their area but couldn’t find anything.
“So we returned and blocked all access roads in and out of the community in a bid to apprehend the suspected militants who blew up the pipeline but couldn’t find any of them”, he said.
Odjo explained further that it was on Friday morning that they discovered that it was the NPDC gas pipeline that supplies DSC gas that was blown by the suspected militants.
“The gas pipeline is the only oil facility in our area that has no surveillance workers; so I want to appealed to the management of NPDC to engage members of the host communities in securing the facility”, he added.
A police source at the Ovwian/Aladja Police station confirmed that it was members of the Orhuwhorun community vigilante outfit that informed them about the explosion, and immediately they mobilized to the scene of incident.
“When we got there we found out that the gas pipeline was blown with dynamite connected to a battery which the perpetrators left at the crime scene. Efforts to apprehend the perpetrators failed as we found no trace to their where about”, the police source said.
Chairman of Udu Local Government Council, Hon. (Chief) Solomon Kpomah on his part condemned the act, saying that what saved the situation was that the affected pipeline is not currently in use because of the fact that DSC is not functioning at the moment.
Meanwhine, Ijaw leader and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark has condemned the recent threat by some militants in the Niger Delta region to declare a Niger Delta republic.
Clark made the condemnation during his opening remarks during the all
inclusive Niger Delta Coastal States Stakeholders consultative meeting held in Warri on Friday.
He said the meeting was convened because of the tension building in the six coastal states of the Niger Delta as a result of high presence of military men.
Clark, who is also the convener of the meeting, appealed to the Niger Delta youths refrain from their destructive activities and embrace peace.
The elder statesman also condemned the unwholesome deployment of troops
into the nook and cranny of the creeks in the region.
He lamented that the deployment of troops in the coastal region has caused panic, disaffection, closure of schools, and people deserting their homesteads and becoming refugees in various places.
Clark emphasized that only a genuine restructuring of the political
administration of the country would bring peace to the region and country.
He also posited that answers to many of the issues raised in the Niger
Delta region were contained in the report of the 2014 National Conference.
While commending the efforts of those clamoring for fiscal federalism, Clark noted sadly that “Our forefathers lived a better life than we are living now, because they we’re able to manage their own affairs.
“We must find a permanent solution to the various problems that we are facing in this country including the youth revolt in the Niger Delta, Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram, Biafra agitations, kidnapping, and recently the inability of the various states to pay their workers salaries and pensions.”
In his contributions, the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa called for cessation of any form of hostilities in the region saying more would be achieved through dialogue and advocacy.