Nigeria’s oil production suffered another decline as the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, attacked Chevron’s facilities, yesterday. This came as leaders of besieged Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, yesterday, and called on the Federal and Delta State governments, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and other humanitarian organizations to come to the assistance of thousands of refugees of the current crisis in the kingdom.
This is even as Niger Delta elders raised the alarm that some unpatriotic but powerful individuals with an agenda to destabilise President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and return Nigeria to the dark days, are responsible for the spate of bombings of oil facilities in the area, using a faceless group known as Niger Delta Avengers.
The NDA attacked Chevron’s oil wells at Dibi, Warri North Local Government Area, while soldiers, who had laid siege to Oporoza and other Gbaramatu communities in Warri South West Local Government Area, in the last five days, were carrying out cordon-and-search operations for arms and ammunition. Ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, who seems to be the chief target of the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta, in a statement, claimed he had relocated from Gbaramatu Kingdom, but it appears the military does not believe him.
NDA claims responsibility Claiming responsibility for the attack, Niger Delta Avengers on its twitter handle @NDAvengers, said: “With the heavy presence of 100 gunboats, 4 warships and jet bombers, NDA blew up Chevron oil well RMP 23 and RMP 24 at 3. 44 am this (yesterday) morning.
“This is to show the whole world that the Nigeria military is good in harassing innocent Nigerians. RMP 24 and RMP 23 are Chevron swamp highest producing wells.” Confirming the incident, a security staff of the company told Vanguard on phone that the head office of the company had been contacted on the incident and efforts were on to curtail the spill.
A source told Vanguard: “It was in Warri North, Egbema Kingdom, at Opia/Ikia axis, around Dibi/Olero. It started from around 3:15 a.m. until around 4:45 a.m. this morning (yesterday). There was no shoot-out heard.” Oil production dips further The blowing up of the oil wells came at a time crude oil price at the international market declined from $50 recorded last week to $49 per barrel on market pessimism over whether the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, could cut a meaningful agreement at its meeting in Vienna on Thursday.
According to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, sources, the country’s oil production has gone below 1.2 million barrels recorded early this week. At press time, Vanguard could not confirm the combined production capacity of Chevron’s RMP 23 and RMP 24 facilities attacked by the militants, as the company’s Director of Communications, Sola Adebawo, declined to comment.
In response to Vanguard’s enquiry, he said; “Thank you for your enquiry. We cannot comment on security matters. Regards.” This is the third attack launched on Chevron’s facilities in less than three months. Apart from decline in oil production, the spate of pipeline attacks have also threatened power supply across the country, which relies on gas from some of the ruptured pipelines to power the plants.
In the last four months, the country has recorded over eight pipeline attacks on facilities belonging to the NNPC and IOCs. Some of those affected by the attacks include Chevron, ExxonMobil, NNPC, Agip and Shell. Oil trades 1% lower Meanwhile, oil traded one per cent lower at around $49 per barrel on market pessimism over whether OPEC could cut a meaningful agreement at its meeting in Vienna, today.
According to Reuters, Gary Ross, a veteran OPEC watcher and founder of US-based PIRA consultancy, the market was getting more pessimistic not only about “non-OPEC but also about OPEC supply. “The main story today is the one of declining output. The global demand is still growing strongly and that works in OPEC’s favour,” he said. The 13-member OPEC will, for the first time, meet with Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s new oil minister, who has been outspoken about not reducing oil production. Gulf OPEC members, including Saudi Arabia, are looking to revive the idea of co-ordinated oil-output action by major producers. Gbaramatu leaders beg for aid for stranded refugees Secretary of Egbema/ Gbaramatu Foundation, Jude Ukori, who expressed shock at the development, said: “We want to appeal to those behind these activities to desist. Egbema is not home to militancy and we do not want to be part of it.
“We have always co-operated with security agencies where we have what they need, but we are not security agents and we do not have what it takes to face whoever is behind these destructions; we can only appeal for peace.” On the situation of the refugees created by the crisis, spokesperson of Gbaramatu Traditional Council, GTC, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, who castigated the state government for allegedly looking the other way while soldiers terrorized the people, admitted that the invasion by soldiers was taking its toll on inhabitants. He said panic-stricken residents of Oporoza, who fled to neighbouring Azama community, had been rendered homeless without medical care for about four days, while those who managed to find their way to Ogbe-Ijoh, Warri and other places were also roaming the streets.
Chief Gbenekama, who called on the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to come to the aid of Gbaramatu people, asserted: “There is humanitarian crisis on ground now. I have been calling NEMA on phone, I am not getting them and the whole of Gbaramatu is locked down. “Though, a few of the people that fled into the bush had found their way to Ogbe-Ijoh, Warri and other places, many are still trapped in the forest. “As I speak, there are many refugees in my residence in Warri, it is difficult catering for them, the whole place is full, they cannot even find where to sleep and feeding is another problem. “That is for those who managed to get to Warri. What of those still stranded in the bush? It is more difficult for them, no accommodation and medical care and I am surprised that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who rode on the back of Gbaramatu people to power, is sleeping in Asaba, while soldiers are bullying those that voted him to power.”
Invasion affecting WAEC, NECO candidates Speaking in the same vein, Chairman of Kokodiagbene community, Sheriff Mulade, said: “The invasion by soldiers affected the on-going school certificate examinations organized by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and National Examinations Council (NECO). “Hundreds of students, who ran into the bush because of the invasion, are yet to be accounted for, while the academic session has been disrupted.” He said because of the prevailing situation, schools in the area had shut down and appealed to both the federal and state governments to step in and arrest the situation. Youths disown Avengers Youths of Urhobo, Itsekiri, Isoko and Ndokwa oil producing ethnic nationalities in Delta State have also dissociated themselves from the rage of bombing of oil assets by the NDA, warning the militant group to stop dragging the name of the Niger Delta in the mud. Youth presidents of Urhobo, Itsekiri, Isoko and Ndokwa ethnic groups stated their displeasure at a joint meeting in Warri to take a collective stand on the militant group.
The communiqué, signed by Terry Obieh and others, read: “You cannot engage in one wrong to cure another wrong, and to that extent, the purported Avengers’ struggle is actuated by over ambition, which we cannot identify with. “There are more peaceful ways to draw the attention of government to a cause, however germane, and not through the unconscionable and mindless destruction of facilities that serve the entire nation. Oshiomhole appeals to NDA to stop blowing pipelines Ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Rivers State for the clean-up of oil spillages in Ogoniland today, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has appealed to the Niger Delta agitators, especially the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, to stop attacking oil and gas installations in the region. Oshiomhole made the appeal, yesterday, while speaking with State House correspondents after a private meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He said:
“When you are dealing with security issues, the options are not best discussed in the media. What I can say is that this President deserves the support of everyone and there is no part of Nigeria that can be better off without the other part. “The sooner we accept this reality the better for all of us. The days of ethnic champions and imaginary divides will not help anyone. I believe that the President has shown leadership. He has shown determination to keep the country going. For once, we are enjoying respect in world capitals, on different continents. “Part of the challenge we are facing today is that quite a number of our young people are out of jobs, even in our budget, the President on his own, without prompting, decided to devote as much as half a trillion naira to social investments that targeted at the poorest among us.
“We do not need to be security experts to accept the universal truth that wherever there is insecurity, there will be no investment because no investor will go to where he is unsafe. And where there is no investment, poverty will be endemic because there will be no job for our people. “I appeal to all of us in the South-South, we need to wake up. It is for our own self interest that we make the region unsafe for investments. The assets being destroyed are not just national assets, it is our own assets. It is what makes the South-South the hub of the Nigerian economy and we should not neutralize it through whatever pretenses.
There is something Abiola said which I think is apt in this case, that is: if a tree falls in the forest, chances are that it can only kill somebody in that forest, not somebody at home.” Army should release seized students, others – NAGS National Association of Gbaramatu Students, NAGS, in a statement by the president, Seiyefa Ekpemupolo, in Warri, enjoined the international community to come to the aid of their people, following the siege and invasion of the kingdom by the Nigerian military. It said: “We have to raise the alarm about the torture, pains and suffering being meted to our people by the military which had laid siege to our kingdom. We condemn the invasion, as our people are neither militants nor members of the Avengers.
We call on the United Nations to call President Buhari and his occupational army to order. “Our students are out of school following the invasion and cannot prepare or sit for the common entrance and junior WAEC that will start in days,” it said. It’s plot to destabilise Buhari’s admin— N-Delta elders Meanwhile, Niger Delta elders, yesterday, raised the alarm that some unpatriotic but powerful individuals with an agenda to destabilise the Muhammadu Buhari administration and return Nigeria to the dark days, were responsible for the spate of bombings of oil facilities in the Niger Delta using a faceless group known as Niger Delta Avengers.
The elders, who spoke at a media briefing under the aegis of Concerned Niger Delta Elders, in Abuja, alleged that the sponsors of the bombings were uncomfortable with the pro-development and anti-corruption drive of the present administration and had, therefore, adopted sponsored attacks to create chaos to bring Nigeria backward for their selfish interest. “We are fully aware that those vested interests, who have held Nigeria back for so long, will not give up without a fight.
They will sow divisions, sponsor vile press criticisms at home and abroad, incite the public in an effort to create chaos, rather than relinquish the vice-like grip they have on Nigeria,” the elders said. The National Coordinator of the elders under the aegis of Concerned Niger Delta Elders, CNDE, High Chief Mike Ekayama Loyibo, who read the position of the elders, described Niger Delta Avengers as faceless, destructive elements bent on destroying the common heritage and the mainstay of Nigeria.
The elders said they were fully in support of the current efforts of Buhari to bring development to the region and would not support any form of destruction, which had crippled the transformation of the area in the past and caused untold hardship for innocent persons in the communities. Lobiyo said: “While acknowledging that violence is not a solution to any human problem, we throw our weight behind the President to take decisive actions in addressing the issue, seeing that the vandals are sabotaging the efforts of Mr. President to bring speedy development to the Niger Delta.
“We advise that the Niger Delta Avengers join hands with forward-looking citizens to appreciate the obstacles we as a country have overcome and the progress the country has made under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari this far, to help strengthen the plans the government had put in place to return Nigeria to the path of progress.”
Navy ‘arrests, quizzes’ NNPC pipeline bombing suspects The Nigerian Navy ship, NNS DELTA, has interrogated seven suspects over various criminal activities in the coastal region of Delta. Flag Officer Commanding, FOC, Central Naval Command, Muhammed Garba, told journalists, yesterday, at the Warri Naval Base that the suspects were apprehended in the last one week in Batan community and environs, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta. He said five others were yet to be interrogated, while seven Cotonou boats and 490 metric tons of illegally refined diesel were also apprehended in the period. Garba said five of them were interrogated for alleged involvement in the recent bombing of the NNPC installations.
The Naval boss explained that one of the suspects was involved in the alleged killing of two soldiers on May 10 at Batan community, while the last suspect was being quizzed for extortion.