Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Hell bent on crippling the source of the oil revenue of the country, suspected militants again, in the early hours of yesterday, attempted to bomb the Trans Forcados 48” Export Trunk line in Batan community in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Though the attack on the trunk line, operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), was foiled by soldiers, the militants succeeded in sinking a barge with equipment used for repair work on the line.
The attack came six days after the pipeline was breached in reaction to the outcome of penultimate Tuesday meeting between Niger Delta stakeholders led by Chief Edwin Clark and President Muhammadu Buhari.
Although, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) came out few days later to claim responsibility for last week attack, THISDAY checks however revealed that it was carried out by some elements dissatisfied with the violent group romance with Clark’s team.
Security sources told THISDAY that yesterday’s attack was executed by the same aggrieved militants in two high powered speed boats at about 3 a.m.
He disclosed that the militants, on arriving at the scene, fired shots severally to scare away five armless surveillance guards, stationed to oversee the equipment and other facilities overnight pending when repair works would continue the next day.
“They came in two boats, about eight of them, fired several shots and scared away the armless surveillance guards employed to watch the site of the repair works and equipment used for the repair, and planted explosives on top of equipment, trunk line and barges in the area.
“Unfortunately for them, only one explosive went off while the timely warning shots from nearby soldiers saved the others from being detonated. They fled on hearing the shots and abandoned their mission,” the security source said.
THISDAY checks further revealed that soldiers of the Joint Task Force (JTF) code-named Operation Delta Safe could not confront the militants because of visibility but only moved in in the early hours to remove the undetonated explosives.
Chairman of Batan community, Dickson Ogugu, who confirmed the attack, said: “The Trans-Forcados export trunk line, which was undergoing another repair after the previous attack on November 2, was billed for inauguration either yesterday or today.”
Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS Delta) Warri, Commodore Joseph Dzunve, could not be reached for confirmation of the incident as his mobile phone line was not going through.
Spokesman of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Lieutenant Colonel Olaolu Marcellinus Daudu, confirmed the attempted attack but said soldiers of Operation Delta Safe repelled the militants.
He said soldiers moved in thereafter and cleared two other dynamites planted on the trunk line, adding that there was no destruction of the line with the exception of some equipment.
A community leader, Mr. Sheriff Mulade, however condemned the attack, insisting that there was no justification for it.
“We condemned the attack on the Trans-Forcadoes trunk line. What point are they trying to make when the federal government has open a line of discussion. Those behind it should be fished out and punished,” Mulade who is the Coordinator of CEPEJ, an environmental rights group. said.