N/Delta Militants Call Off Ceasefire, Threaten to Resume Bombings

  •  Accuse FG of reneging on agreements

By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

After several months of respite, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), yesterday said it was calling off a ceasefire agreement it had with the federal government to halt the bombing of oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta region.

 The group also vowed that unlike its operation in 2016 when it pledged not to shed any blood, including that of Nigerian soldiers, the impending fight would be “bloody and brutal”. 

Members of the NDA who succeeded in cutting Nigeria’s oil export by at least half last year, in the violent group’s heady days, said they were returning to the creeks because the government at the centre had failed to develop the region and forge a new vision as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari. 

A statement posted on its website yesterday and signed by its Spokesman, ‘Maj. Gen.’ Murdoch Agbinibo, also took the Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) as well as other leaders of the region to the cleaners, maintaining that the group had lost faith in PANDEF’s ability to get the federal government to develop the region. 

But in a bizarre twist, NDA also took on Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, whom they accused of trying to intimidate them to stop their proposed destruction of critical infrastructure in the Niger Delta. 

It denounced the group, Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA), which had recently named some elders from the region to negotiate on their behalf, insisting that the RNDA was a group of “political jobbers”, bent on ripping off the Niger Delta people.

 It said: “The Intelligence Unit of the NDA has gathered from our sources in the Nigerian Government that the operatives of the said Reformed Niger Delta Avengers are some fraudsters from the Niger Delta region working with government functionaries like the office of the Director General of DSS, office of National Security Adviser and office of the Minister of Transport. 

“The chain of Niger Delta fraudsters which is being led by one Richard Akinaka, Mike Loyibo and Famous Daunumugha and a host of others; has vowed to stop at nothing until they help the Nigerian Government to jeopardize the sincere efforts of the Niger Delta People at Economic, Social and Political freedom”, the group said. 

NDA declared that it was not surprised that Clark and his group were not able to achieve anything under this current government, insisting that the government at the centre was only interested in oil flowing from the region.

 NDA said: “The elders of the Niger Delta, PANDEF, we warned you against the antics of the Nigerian Government, yet you requested a chance to broker a new vision for our people.

 “We told you and the rest of the world that the Nigerian Government is only interested in our oil wells and not our well-being, yet you told us the signs are different this time around. 

“Instead of allowing us to continue our quest to bring the Nigerian economy to our targeted zero daily production, which recorded huge success; you threatened us with Tompolo to stop the struggle; out of respect for elders and not to the threat of Tompolo, we adhered to the call and halted our strike actions hoping you (PANDEF) would keep your own side of the bargain.”

While mocking PANDEF, they urged the elders’ group to point out any achievement since they heeded “your retrogressive call”, maintaining that the destruction of the facilities was sanctioned “by our ancestors and the Almighty”. 

Also in an attack on Tompolo, an ex-militant leader who is currently in the wanted list of the federal government, the NDA leadership said it was no longer ready to heed “uninspiring advice” from him or anybody else from the region once the destruction resumes.

 “We have since lost faith in you (Tompolo) and PANDEF and have vowed never to heed any such retrogressive call or advice from you in the future. 

“The recent disruption of the PANDEF 4th National Assembly by the Nigerian government is the final evidence we needed to conclude that the federal government reserves not even an iota of respect for you (Tompolo) and the Niger Delta Elders. 

“The position of the Nigerian government is made emphatically known to the Niger Delta people that its only interest remains the flow of oil from our region to the Central Bank of Nigeria. We want to make it known to the PANDEF and the Nigeria government that our call for halt on “Operation Red Economy” is officially over,” the Avengers vowed. 

For a start, the group said it had just concluded the headcount of its operatives across the country, and expressed pleasure that all “operatives are intact and focused; ready to implement instructions from the High Command of the NDA in the going (sic) few days.” 

It said the group was aware of a major project being carried out by the federal government in collaboration with some oil companies, vowing to crumble the business. 

“We are aware that Egina FPSO built in South Korea by Samsung to be operated by Total Nigeria is one of the biggest FPSO built in South Korea, and has started it’s voyage to the oil fields of the Niger Delta to further exploit us while our concerns are left unattended. 

“We are presently tracking and monitoring its movement; and God willing, it shall not operate successfully amidst the return of the fury of the Niger Delta Avengers,” NDA said. 

It also sent a warning signal to oil companies operating in the region, promising to destroy any obstacle on the group’s way to victory. 

“Message to the oil companies: our next line of operation will not be like the 2016 campaign which operated successfully without any casualties; this outing will be brutish, brutal and bloody. 

“We shall crush everything we meet on our path to completely put off the fires that burn to flare gas in our communities and cut every pipe that moves crude away from our region. We can assure you that every oil installation in our region will feel the warmth of the wrath of the Niger Delta Avengers,” the militants said. 

Reacting to the allegation, Akinaka dismissed the statement as bunkum, insisting that he had no links with the said Reformed Niger Delta Avengers or any government agency linked to the said allegation.

He said the security operatives  knew who was doing what in the region but would not shy away from what would develop and empower the people of the Niger Delta.

Akinaka admitted belonging to Pan-Niger Delta Youth Leadership Forum and being the Chief Executive Officer of Grassroots Initiative for Peace and Social Orientation which pursues peace in the region. 

Akinaka said: “Avengers seeks to blackmail the government of the day for their selfish interest as there is no basis for the hostilities carried out by them. As a people, we sacrificed our struggles on the altar of the political ascension of one man, who’s reign has nothing to show for in the region. I am an objective young man who will not co-toe to the selfish sentiments of greedy people.

“The problem with those avengers and their promoters is that Richard Akinaka is an independent-minded young man who will call black black. This publication is not far from blackmail again to secure security contracts for themselves on the project mentioned by them in their statements. I know I will be blackmailed by those whose activities are affected by my objective views. They should be prepared for more.

“I am not working for any government official but as a man who has identified leadership failure as the bane of growth of my region, and as such, has decided to do what I can with my ability to hold leadership accountable and push for a better Niger Delta. I challenge them to just give me one history of fraud in my name.

“Rather than exercising their energy on destroying oil installations and our environment, they should redirect their supposedly love of our region to tackling the leadership failure that has bedeviled us.”