According to a statement made by a community leader on Monday, Nigerian militants have pounced on another pipeline. This time, it was a crude oil pipeline in the Niger Delta which is operated by a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the outskirts of a city called Warri.
Over the past few months, militants have attacked Nigerian oil facilities to demand a larger share of the country’s energy wealth for the destitute Delta. These ambushes have brought the nation’s production numbers down to 30-year lows.
Batan community chairman, Ogugu Dickson, reported that two explosions were heard Sunday evening on the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company. Blasts had also been reported in Batan by a security source.
“This morning I and some PPMC workers, and security agents, were at the site,” said Dickson, “All we could see was a huge bubble (of oil) on the surface of the river.” The NNPC could not be reached for a comment on the event.
So far, no particular militant group has stepped forward to assume responsibility for the attack. The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) have claimed to behind most of the destruction since January, but not this time. “That’s not NDA,” a rep for the group said in an email on Monday to Reuters.
The Nigerian government is said to be in discussion with militants to stop the assaults. In June, the government said that an agreement for a month-long ceasefire had been reached, but the NDA said that there was never an agreement.
Youth minister, Solomon Dalung, stated that he has met members of the NDA before on both his personal Twitter and during a newspaper interview, but the group has said that this isn’t true. “Any meeting with Niger Delta Avengers that the International communities are not part of to witness, we (Niger Delta Avengers) will not be part of,” the NDA posted on its website.
Late Sunday, a group of former militants known as The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) devised a crew to contribute to a discussion with the government on ending the attacks. One of those named for the team, Government Ekpemupolo (widely known as Tompolo) is actually a wanted fugitive. The most recent flurry of attacks began after Tompolo’s warrant to take on corruption charges was issued. However, Tompolo has denied these charges and any involvement in the latest assaults.
MEND has called for charges against Tompolo to be dismissed. According to the group, it would be senseless to deny talking to a person like Tompolo who might be able to convince militants to cease fire.
One government source said it had yet to receive a request from MEND on the talks or on the subject of dismissing charges.
Article written by HEI contributor Briana Steptoe.