•Nigerian marine troops on duty in the Niger Delta
The military on Friday warned that it would be decisive in dealing with fresh threats to oil installations in the country.
The warning followed the decision of militants under the aegis of Niger Delta Avengers to resume attacks on oil installations across the region.
The Niger Delta Avengers, in a statement on Friday vowed not to spare anything or anyone “in our path to actualise a united and free Niger Delta.”
Spokesman of the militant group, self-styled Major-General Murdoch Agbinibo, made the threat, on Friday, in a statement posted on the group’s website, www.nigerdeltaavengers.org.
The military, however, responded to the threats by expressing its readiness to stop the group from succeeding in its plan to plunge the country into another round of economic crisis.
The commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS DELTA), Warri Naval Base, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, spoke with Saturday Tribune in Warri on Friday, on the preparedness of the military to neutralise the fresh threat coming from the militants.
“We are not taking it lightly. We are also preparing to respond as we are on red alert everywhere,” he said.
The country is witnessing an increase in oil income due to a rise in its crude oil export. The country is presently producing about 2.2 million barrels per day owing to the relative peace in the Niger Delta after the intervention of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) led by Chief Edwin Clark.
But General Agbinibo expressed the anger of the group over “the disgrace” meted out to members of PANDEF during its fourth General Assembly held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, recently.
He said the “ignominious treatment” had justified the group’s earlier warning against “dining” with the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government in a bid to dialogue.
“We want to make it known to the PANDEF and the Nigerian government that our call for halt on ‘Operation Red Economy’ is officially over.
“We have just concluded head count of our operatives across the country; we are pleased to announce that all our operatives are intact and focused; ready to implement instructions from the High Command of the NDA in the going few days,” he said.
Agbinibo said further in the statement that the current “lethargic” and “deceptive” attitude of the Federal Government towards the Niger Delta region was responsible for the decision to resume the onslaught on the economy.
According to him, if former militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo and PANDEF had listened to the group’s warnings, the situation would have been different by now, noting that PANDEF’s intervention to mediate had yielded no result.
“To 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.
“The question to Tompolo and the PANDEF is to tell us what progress they achieved since we heeded your retrogressive call. To whose benefit is the move by Tompolo and the Niger Delta elders to impede a mission sanctioned by our ancestors and the Almighty?
“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 General Assembly by the Nigerian government is the final evidence we needed to conclude that the Federal Government of Nigeria deserves not even an iota of respect from you (Tompolo) and the Niger Delta Elders as 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,” it alleged.
The group threatened to level any obstacle on its way as it resumes hostilities against oil multinationals soon.
“Message to the oil companies; our next line of operation will not be like the 2016 campaign which we operated successfully without any casualties; this outing will be brutish, brutal and bloody, as we shall crush everything we meet on our path to completely put out 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.
“To the Nigerian government, we are aware of Egina FPSO built in South Korea by Samsung to be operated by Total Nigeria is one of the biggest FPSO built in South Korea has started its 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,” it warned.
The group warned the public to be wary of one “Reformed Niger Delta Avengers,” which it described as “a money-making tool in the hands of certain disgruntled Niger Delta “political jobbers in connivance with top government functionaries of the Buhari-led Nigerian government.”
However, the commander of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS DELTA), Warri Naval Base, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, reacted to the threats in a telephone interview with Saturday Tribune in Warri on Friday.
He said his command was not taking the threat lightly as the patrol of the base’s area of responsibility had commenced with naval personnel on gunboats already in action.
“We are not taking it lightly. We are also preparing to respond as we are on red alert everywhere. We have also got the information. What we do when we get information like this is that our men will be on red alert and we will patrol all the waterways and places.
“You know they are threatening to start attacking oil and gas facilities and everything. We will carry out extensive patrol,” Dewu vowed.
When asked about the strength of the personnel and equipment that will be deployed in the waterways, the naval boss said, “No, no, no, no. I wouldn’t disclose the number of men and gunboats.”
New spokesman of Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), an arm of the military Joint Task Force (JTF), Major Abdulahi Abubakar, said he was unaware of the new threats as of the time he was contacted on Friday.
The militant group, through its ceaseless attacks on oil and gas facilities in the region, brought down crude oil export to as low, as 1.523 million barrels per day in June 2016 while the country grappled with recession. (Saturday Tribune)