Niger Delta Avengers bomb oil facility in military area
*Group says 50 soldiers died pursuing militants
*DHQ reiterates resolve to crush economic terrorists
Despite the deployment of heavy military hardware like planes and drones to the Niger Delta region to forestall further destruction of critical oil infrastructure, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) yesterday said it successfully coordinated the bombing of Chevron’s Oil Wells RMP 23 and RMP 24.
It was learnt that the NDA struck yesterday morning at RMP 23 and RMP 24 wells said to be the highest producing among wells operated by Chevron.
According to the militants, the strike “goes to show the world that Nigerian military is only good at harassing innocent citizens.”
The militants who announced the bombing via their Twitter account said despite the presence of 100 gunboats, four warships and jet bombers belonging to the Nigeria Army, it blew up Chevron’s Oil Well RMP 23 and RMP 24 around 3:44 a.m.
They also disclosed that 50 soldiers sent to the creeks of the Niger Delta to hunt them down died while pursuing militants.
The militants, however, insisted that they were not responsible for the death of the soldiers as they blamed it on the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
On their Twitter handle the militants said: “The Chief of Army Staff deployed personnel without amphibious training to the creeks that led to the death of about 50 soldiers. If not for the help of local fishermen the death rate should have been up to 100.”
The Nigeria Army is yet to respond to the claim.
In another tweet, the group said: “The Nigerian military also lied that Niger Delta Avengers killed soldiers. We have not engaged in combat with them but if they want us to kill them let them come after us.”
But the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has said false allegations that soldiers are harassing innocent citizens in some communities of the Niger Delta would not discourage them from cleansing the region of vandals and other criminal elements called “economic terrorists.”
A statement issued yesterday in Abuja by the Director of Defence Information (DDI) Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar said the ”sponsored blackmail” would not affect the focus of security agencies to discharge their lawful duties, as their “job is to secure infrastructural facilities and property of innocent citizens as well as containing the activities of criminal.”
The statement said the Armed Forces “will not relent in their efforts to flush out economic saboteurs masquerading under whatever guise to perpetuate evils in the Niger Delta.”
Meanwhile, the NDA dismissed reports of the arrest of 10 of their members, saying: “Our attention has been drawn to the arrest of 10 @NDAvengers boys by Nigeria Military. None of our strike team has been arrested. It’s all a lie.”
Following the attack, Concerned Niger Delta Leaders (CNDL) and Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, have called on the militants to cease warfare and embrace dialogue in resolving their grievances.
Adegboruwa in his reaction to the attack on Chevron’s wells, said there was no society ever built on violence as no matter the length of war, dialogue will always ensue.
While joining other Nigerians to ask the militants in the Niger Delta to cease warfare, Adegboruwa said that the point had already been made now and the whole world knows about the hypocrisy of the Nigerian elite, including their collaborators in pretending to be attending to the peoples’ problems.
Besides, authorities of the Nigeria Navy have said eight people were arrested for various maritime criminal ventures and are undergoing further interrogation in their custody.
“If people take the pains to visit our various communities, they will appreciate the cause and struggle for resource control.
“Ayetoro community is almost washed off completely and in places like Awoye, Jinringho, the Obe confederations, Ugbo and even Araromi.
“We have lost houses, flora and fauna, to rampaging and rapacious oil companies, due mainly to their very crude methods of exploration.
“But as I stated herein, violence cannot usher in any solution. So, let all militants lay down their arms and embrace peace through dialogue,” Adegboruwa said.
The lawyer, however, stressed the need for the restructuring of the country saying, “we cannot continue to pretend that our nation state is okay, that we will continue to use oil to develop Lagos, Abuja and the other cities of the majority ethnic tribes and expect us to keep quiet in our creeks and swamps. It will never work. Never.
“Let the Nigerian government genuinely embrace dialogue that will lead to proper federalism.
“This lopsided arrangement whereby government holds on to every item of value in the land cannot work.
“So, let us truly restructure Nigeria. I am for resource control, 100% and I am for peace and dialogue, 101%,” he concluded.
At a world press conference in Abuja yesterday, Coordinator of CNLD, High Chief Mike Ekayama Loyibo who read the speech on behalf of the group, stated that the activities of the militant group were affecting the existence of the country to its foundation. He therefore, stated that the Niger Delta people were not in support of such criminal activities.
Loyibo, however, urged the government to speed up development in the region, advising also that the amnesty programme should be continued as the training and capacity building of people should be a continuous exercise.
He expressed delight at the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to commence the clean-up of Ogoniland, appealing to the agitating militants to rather embrace dialogue and support government’s commitment to the development of the region.
A statement issued yesterday in Abuja by the Director of Information, Commodore Christian Ezekobe said the arrest of the suspects is one of the significant results of the efforts to “check the activities of illegal crude oil thieves, pipeline vandals and other criminals operating in the Niger Delta.”
He said operations against all forms of security threats in the maritime domain had been stepped up with the injection of combat platforms which has resulted in the arrest of three persons namely Sani aka Dogonyaro, Usman aka Smally and Adamu Mani, “by the operatives of the Nigerian Navy in connection with series of maritime crimes. “The suspects are still undergoing investigation and will be handed over to the prosecuting authorities for further action.”
This is coming as the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) yesterday accused an Itsekiri chieftain of allegedly interfering and sponsoring division within the parent Ijaw youth organisation.
A statement via email sent to The Guardian in Yenagoa by Eric Omare, its spokesman, warned the Itsekiri chief to steer clear of Ijaw affairs as the Ijaws had never interfered in those of the Itsekiri.