Delta State Government Appeals To Niger Delta Avengers

The Deputy Governor of Delta State and Chairman, Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities, Barr. Kingsley Burutu Otuaro has appealed to the Niger Delta Avengers against threats for new attacks.

This is coming days after the Avengers hinted on their intention to attack critical oil assets in resumed programme tagged “operation red economy” aimed at bringing Nigeria’s oil production and export capacity and hence its largely oil-based economy to ground zero.

But the Otuaro-led Advocacy Committee with Dr. Chris Ekiyor as Secretary, has extended invitation to the NDA, urging the militant body to formally lodge their grievances to Governor’s office Annexe, Warri or to the Deputy Governor’s Office, Government House, Asaba for subsequent engagement.

Addressing newsmen in Warri, following Avenger’s fresh threat, Otuaro said: “As agitators, we must be mindful not to cancel out the modest gains already made through the dialogue process with the Federal Government which is still on course. Days back, the House of Representatives passed the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Bill to law as the Senate did last year. The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) was also just passed. These are few pointers among others of better things to come”, Otuaro said.

“The Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities which I chair, just concluded a 2-day Conference on securing oil installations in Delta State. Conference drew attendance from oil companies, government bodies and communities from both Itsekiri and Ijaw Kingdoms in the riverside areas of the state. To underscore the importance of the conference, the Country Chair/Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Company (SPDC), Mr. Osagie Okunbor, personally attended and delivered the keynote address”, Otuaro said.

“At a post-conference press briefing in Warri, the Advocacy Committee hinted of arrangements to reach higher platforms to engage authorities of key issues raised at the conference towards resolving same. We have made contacts and gotten responses; I can tell you that there is yet no reason to be pessimistic”, Otuaro added.

“Delta State Government efforts at peace for development of the oil bearing areas is without prejudice to other groups and bodies in commendable nonviolent agitation for the improvement of the Niger Delta region”, Otuaro clarified, adding: “Experience shows that we can achieve more through dialogue than by violence. It is not only the Federal Government that needs the oil revenue to develop the entire nation. We also need revenue that ensures the modest development we can bring about. While we deserve more, we cannot endanger the environment for survival of our generation, let alone future generations”.

 

“Among several issues, Conference resolved that oil bearing communities must be engaged to better protect oil installations. It was agreed that oil installations vandalism was criminal and shooting self and future generations in the foot, having regard to concomittant environmental despoliation and loss of revenue for development of the region”, Otuaro informed.

 

BREAKING: Niger Delta Avengers Threaten To Resume ‘Deadly’ Attacks

The Niger Delta Avengers has on Wednesday announced its plan to resume deadly attacks on oil installations and facilities in Nigeria’s oil-rich region.

Spokesperson of the militant group Murdoch Agbinibo in a statement which was published on the group’s website said the round of attacks will be the “most deadly and will be targeting the deep sea operations of the multinationals.”

Calling for the restructuring of Nigeria, the group said their plan to attack oil facilities in the oil-rich region of the country is due to killings and division happening in some parts of the country.

“On the 15th of January 2018, being the 62nd historic Remembrance Day of the 1956 discovery of commercial oil by Shell Darcy in the now forgotten and dejected Oloibiri Community in the Niger Delta; the high command of the ND Avengers summoned a meeting of all our operatives from across the Niger Delta to review the progress of our operations so far and deliberate on the planned actions for the future.

“It was agreed in that meeting that the killings and division presently playing out in Nigeria along divergent grounds makes this the perfect time to restructure this country. Our demand unambiguously is for the government to restructure this Country,” the statement read in part.

The group said after announcing a ceasefire in November 2017, some of the elders in Niger Delta intervened and appealed that they should ceasefire. The Avengers, therefore, said they are disappointed because the elders have not achieved any result.

“On the 3rd of November 2017 we promised to reactivate “operation red economy” but as usual some over patriotic elders intervened and appealed as they have done twice before then for us to avail them some more time to attend to the demands of the Niger Delta as championed by the Niger Delta Avengers.

“That we have not achieved any meaningful results despite the opportunities we have availed the Niger Delta elders means that they are either irresponsible or the Nigerian government is not sincere with them as it is their trade in stock.”

The group said they have resolved not to listen to the Niger Delta elders and all they wish for is Nigeria’s restructuring and a control the resources of oil-rich Niger Delta.

“We wish to state in plain terms that anybody against restructuring is an enemy of this country and particularly an enemy of the Niger Delta Avengers. We want to control our resources and directly use them to better our lot instead of been enslaved and made to beg before crumbs are released in a dress rehearsal-like manner to intervention agencies that are ineffective.

“While 1 Billion Dollars from the excess crude account is been released to fight a Boko Haram in the North; successive government acts blind to the very bold array of challenges our region from which this wealth is generated is facing.”

The group also accused the Nigerian Army of releasing 244 members of the Boko Haram sect to Borno state government while thousands of innocent Niger Delta youths suffer in various prisons across the country and demanded the release of Niger Delta activists held captive.

“It is on the above premise that we are demanding the immediate release of all Niger Deltans Activists and Freedom Fighters that are held captive by the Nigeria Armed Forces.”

FG Begs Niger Delta Avengers “Just Be Patient With Us”

Federal Government, yesterday, pleaded with militant groups in the Niger Delta region, especially the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, to be patient with the government as efforts were being made to address all their grievances.

Pastor Usani Uguru Usani the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, who made the appeal shortly after having a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said already some of the requests of the people had been attended to.

The appeal came as the rivalry between militants in the zone got messier as one of the groups offered to take security agents to ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo’s hideout with Tompolo saying he has nothing to do with pipeline destruction.

Meantime, leaders of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and Pan Niger Delta Peoples’ Congress, PNDPC, were locked in verbal warfare, yesterday as Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State also begged the aggrieved youths not resume hostilities in the region.

According to Pastor Usani, the issue calls for patience, “knowing that some of these things have a procedure, and everything has a phase of planning and a phase of execution.”

The minister, who said he was at the Villa to brief the President on the activities in his ministry while he was away, said though the issue of threat by NDA was not part of the discussions, government had started implementing the agreement it entered into with the people of the region.

“For a while, he (President) has not been around and there are things he needed to know from me and so I had to brief him on issues pertaining to the ministry, the projects that are going on and other anthropogenic issues that have to do with general matters concerning the Niger Delta region especially, the concerns bordering on who is right or not right to speak for the zone and the issues of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. All these occupied our discussions with the President today,” he said.

On whether the fresh threats by the Avengers was part of the discussions, he said: “We haven’t discussed the Avengers per se but it is of essence as the President has always shown indication that whatever we need to and can do to sustain peace in the region, we would continue to do it…You are aware that the Vice President (Prof. Yemi Osinbajo) has been chairing the committee that handles the issues they are raising.

“And so, while that goes on operationally, headed by the Vice President, the President just needs to be briefed on our efforts though we know that the Vice President briefs him from time to time but as per the Avengers issue, it was not discussed. On a general note, it is understood that we have to be engaged to be able to sustain the peace that prevailed for a while.”

On his message to the Avengers, he said: “My message is not just verbal but it has been demonstrated by the fact at all times. The government of which I am part, my role as minister in charge of the region, we have been appealing to them to just be patient with us, because, most of the time, the issues that are brought up are those that tend to portray the quest for development of the region.

“And that is all we have been doing, to say, be patient with us, these issues raised genuinely for the benefit of people of the region are being attended to. For instance, the university at Okerekoko, you are aware that the Vice President has directed that that university must take off. And he also directed that a minimum of N5 billion be budgeted for the take-off of the university.’’
On the situation in the region now, he said: “We are glad, so far, that all parties have listened to one another. Government, Avengers, Elders and so on. We would wish that this continues. So, we would advise all of us to remain calm and see the things that we agitated for coming little by little.”

He disagreed with claims of the Avengers that the government has failed in its promises to them, saying the university at Okerenkoko and the communities being part of surveillance of the petroleum infrastructure in the region were promises being kept.

“And of course you know that by the modular refineries which they had also talked about as sub-set of how they can be engaged instead of what is called illegal refineries, are also on, because the process of building a refinery or even getting the necessary procedures to establish such is not just a one day business.

Advertisements have been made, people have indicated interest and of course, to get it sustainable, the government is having the state governments involved but privately driven so that all concerned will be on a common page to ensure that whenever it takes off, there is no frustration or sabotage,’’ he added.

He continued: “Then your second question of meeting with the Avengers, for us as a government, there hasn’t been any group from the region that intended to meet with any arm of government that has been rebuffed. So, if any people make such overtures, we will be happy to receive them. We have been receiving different groups. We are not limiting our dialogue or discussions to any particular group. So anybody that says he is relevant in the process and comes forth, we are ready to engage.”

East West road

He however described as unfortunate the circumstances surrounding the reconstruction of the East-West. “For the benefit of hindsight, the East-West road was conceived and started from the Ministry of Works then transferred to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. But we all have to appreciate one thing. Such physical infrastructure don’t decay over night and so the neglect has continually put continuous liability on us.

Yes, it is true that I met with the contractors and I appealed to them to go back to site, we have also been very conscientious in releasing funds as they are cash-backed for them to continue work. Nonetheless, we are thinking of alternatives for completing that project amid the many issues that tend to be the undercurrents that are drawing back the execution. And such issues are technical and we are tackling them. In due course, you will know the outcome,” he said.

Speaking in like manner, Governor Okowa appealed to the NDA not to reopen attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.

Okowa in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charles Aniagwu, noted that “Deltans will lose more if the group make good its latest threat to withdraw from further cooperation with the federal government and begin massive attacks on oil facilities.

“We passionately appeal to the Niger Delta Avengers not to resume hostilities, because Deltans will be the greatest losers. We are barely recovering from the effect of previous attacks and it is our honest appeal that they still give peace a chance by allowing for peaceful engagements with the Federal Government and other stakeholders,’’ he said

Nigerian Navy To Curb Threats, Vows To Protect National Asset

The Nigerian Navy has planned to deal decisively with any group or organization that threatens the territorial integrity of the nation.

The Force has warned that nobody would be allowed to vandalize the nation’s assets under whatever guise.

The chief of naval staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, disclosed this on Monday when he visited the Nigerian Navy Engineering College in Sapele, Delta.

Recall the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), a militant group in the Niger Delta recently called off its ceasefire with the federal government and promised to return to the creeks to destroy the country’s oil installations.

But Ibas said the navy would match any such threat force for force and do not have to wait until an attack occurs before it acts.

He said the statutory obligation of the navy is to protect lives and property as well as secure the nation’s assets in the maritime domain.

Those listed among the groups to be clamped down upon are Avengers, kidnappers, sea robbers and sea pirates.

“We do not wait until a threat comes from a particular group before the navy acts so what we do is to protect lives and property,” he said.

“Any threat is taken seriously especially against the nation’s assets and individuals and the Nigerian Navy will continue to do that to secure the maritime territory of Nigeria as well as bad waters.”

Ibas also revealed the navy had to deploy a “checkpoint regime strategy” to combat maritime crime.

“With the checkpoint management, our presence is all tailored toward reducing those challenges you have out there at the sea,” he said.

“I think the overall assessment is that the Navy’s presence has reduced the incidences of pirates at sea.”

Report Links Jonathan To Niger Delta Avengers

Despite his denial, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan has been allegedly fingered in the formation and activities of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).

Also, findings by the security have confirmed that oil installations were mined before the May 29, 2015 handover to President Muhammadu Buhari.

These are the basic points of intelligence report, already made available to the Presidency but which is still being studied.

Last August 7, Jonathan denied having any links with NDA, restating his commitment to the nation’s unity.

The intelligence gathering was said to be a confirmation of a similar claim by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta(MEND).
According to a top intelligence source, who spoke in confidence last night, the NDA was formed as a Plan B option before the 2015 general election.

The source said the initial plan was to ask the NDA to declare Niger Delta Republic immediately after Jonathan’s defeat but the ex-President was believed to have prevailed on the group to shelve the idea.

The NDA was said to have been resuscitated after the Federal Government launched a massive probe into the mismanagement of the oil sector.

The revelations from the probe were said to have overwhelmed the ex-President, who felt he and ex-First Lady Patience Jonathan were being targeted.

The source said: “We have intelligence report that it is true that the ex-President has been meeting with the NDA militants before the general election.

“The initial plan was to declare Niger Delta Republic after Jonathan’s electoral loss but the NDA members were taken aback when the ex-President conceded.

“Findings confirmed that the ex-President and others being probed, resuscitated the NDA plan when the Federal Government initiated a probe into the oil sector.

“We suspect that the ex-President is afraid that the way the investigation in the oil industry was going, he and his wife will be questioned.

“The fact that some of the conditions put forward by the NDA, including not going after Government Ekpemuopolo Tompolo, and stopping investigation of all corruption probes, have confirmed some of the intelligence.

Responding to a question, the source added: “Intelligence report also showed that the evidence of the attacks of oil installations was planned before May 29. The NDA and other militants had mined these installations before the handover.

“But following the probe of the oil sector, they were mandated to start detonating it.

The source added: “Intelligence report also indicated that a former Coordinator of Amnesty Programme Kingsley Kuku and a former National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Olisa Metuh might have played some key roles in the formation and operation of NDA.”
But both Metuh and Kuku have also denied any role in the activities of NDA.

When contacted, a high-ranking government source, who wants to remain anonymous, said: “It has been known in government circles that Jonathan may be behind the NDA. The speed with which he denied the allegation spoke volumes.

“Despite the denial, the allegations have refused to go away.

“His allegation that MEND is after him is to divert attention from his roles as the mastermind of the NDA . His morbid fear of being investigated alongside his wife is behind what is going on. Investigation has revealed massive looting under his administration. His alarm was just to pre-empt being probed.”

Niger Delta Avengers Claim Destruction Of Five Oil Facilities In Delta

The militant group, Niger Delta Avengers (DNA), at the weekend said it launched five attacks on the nation’s oil and gas facilities in the Warri creeks in the last three days.

NDA, in a series of tweets, claimed to have attacked critical facilities in three locations in Warri Southwest Local Government Area of Delta State.But the claim has not been independently confirmed.

Efforts to get security and industry confirmations on the alleged attacks did not yield results, although community sources confirmed the attacks.

In its tweet, NDA claimed to have destroyed a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) crude pipeline in an unidentified location on Friday night; two major crude oil trunk lines belonging to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), near Batan, on Saturday night and two major oil wells belonging to Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) near Abiteye, on Sunday morning.

It said: “At 9:15p.m on Friday, the @NDAvengers blew up Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) crude oil trunk line to Warri Refinery.
“At 11:26 p.m on Saturday, @NDAvengers blew up two NPDC major crude trunk lines close to Batan flow station in Delta State.
“At 1:15 a.m on Sunday, @NDAvengers blew up two major Chevron oil wells – Well 7 and Well 8, close to Abiteye flow station in Delta State.
“All five operations were carried out by @ndavengers strike team. Well done, soldiers.”

Confirming the attacks, a community leader at Kokodiagbene in Warri Southwest Local Government Area, who is also an environmental activist, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, said he had confirmed the attacks from community sources.

The activist said the location of the NNPC trunk line attack had not been confirmed.
Mulade said: “The one that happened yesterday (Saturday) was at Dibi flow station; that’s not exactly Abiteye, but behind it. It affects the Chevron Dibi flow station and the NNPC trunk line to the Warri Refinery. We have confirmed the one at Dibi, but we are yet to confirm the one at the trunk line. That’s the confirmation we are waiting for.

“We have not been able to confirm the attack on the NNPC trunk line to Warri Refinery, but it is around the Batan Chanomi Creek axis. We are yet to know the exact area.”
Also, a police report, which our reporter accessed in Warri last night, confirmed the twin attacks on the Chevron Oil Wells 7 and 8 at Abiteye.

It reads: “At about 0110 hours (1.10 a.m) and 0115 hours (1.15 am), Chevron Oil Wells 7 and 8 were blown up at Abiteye flow station. Chevron’s Chief Security Officer (CSO), who was on ground at the location, claimed that the twin explosions occurred at about 5 minutes intervals. The bombed oil wells are a little distant from the Abiteye flow station. Chevron has reported a drop in pressure from the crude oil pipeline at Abiteye.”

Buhari To Meet Niger Delta Leaders Over Renewed Militancy

President Muhammadu Buhari has offered to personally meet with governors, elders and other stakeholders from the Niger Delta as part of his efforts to seek peace in the region following renewed sabotage of oil and gas pipelines by militants.

The President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC),Udens Eradiri, said yesterday that the presidency had contacted elders and stakeholders to inform them of Buhari’s intention to talk peace.

Eradiri did not say when the meeting might take place but stated stakeholders would meet shortly on the crisis and the way forward.

Oil production in the country now hovers around 1.8million barrels per day from 2.5mpd on account of the attacks.

Eradiri spoke some 24 hours after the President pleaded with the militants to cease hostilities “in the name of God Almighty.”

Buhari told APC leaders at a breaking fast dinner on Friday the activities of the militants were hampering Nigeria’s development.

“No insurance company will want to insure installations that will end up being blown up and no banks will want to finance such installations,” he said.

“Those of you who have friends among the leadership or even the militants themselves should plead with them in the name of God Almighty to take it easy.”

Eradiri yesterday commended President Buhari for heeding the advice of the IYC to use dialogue in resolving crisis in the region.

His words: “We want to commend the President because I heard from the grapevine, from one of our foremost governors and leader of Ijaw land this morning (yesterday) when he said they had been invited by the President for an engagement with respect to the Niger Delta crises.

“So, I want to commend the President for hearing our cries and for taking the right approach because there is no other approach than what the President has decided to do.

“Mr. President is a very meticulous man who keeps a lot of things to his chest and Nigerian and people who are always around take advantage of his silence and misinterpret the body language of Mr. President in various ways.

“That body language that has been misinterpreted has created a lot of confusion that has further worsened the situation in Niger Delta.

“Therefore we thank God Mr. President will be coming out boldly to address the issues and body language will no longer be misrepresented.

“We want to thank the president for that bold step and look forward to the right leaders going to sit down with the President to properly articulate the position of Niger Delta”.

But he said the Ijaw would continue to advocate for true federalism and restructuring as the permanent solutions to issues affecting different parts of the country.

Eradiri maintained that restructuring would solve the problems of Fulani herdsmen, constant attacks on pipelines, agitation for Biafra and other matters arising from the lopsidedness of the Nigerian state.

He said: “We are of the opinion that Nigeria needs to be restructured so that we can solve problems of tomato price, dollar prices, insecurity, herdsmen crisesand insecurity in the middle belt, armed robbery cases and others.

“The only solution to Nigeria’s problems not just Niger Delta problem is that we restructure this country to the point where people sit down and agree that we should go forward as a nation.

“It is only in that spirit that we will solve Avengers’ (Niger Delta Avengers) problems once and for all.

“We want a holistic approach to the problem so that tomorrow an avenger will not arise or a destroyer will not arise or another pseudo group will not come and be destabilising the region.

“We have said this because the same issue the Willink’s Commission talked about was the same issue Isaac Boro came out to declare the Niger Delta Republic and eventually fought for Nigeria and died for it; the same issue Ken Saro-Wiwa was killed for.

“It is the same issue that led to the formation of IYC to non-violently address issues of underdevelopment and marginalisation in the Nigeria state and the same issues that led to MEND and the same issue that led to avengers.

“So, if we want to move forward its only common sense that we address those issues and we think that those issues are holistically embedded in a restructured Nigeria.”