Niger Delta militants are banding together once again to threatening Nigeria’s fragile oil sector.
Corporal Oleum Belum, spokesman for the New Delta Avengers (NDA), sounded a battle-cry against the Delta Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) and other oil agencies early this week.
“We hereby declare ‘Operation Cripple Oil and Gas Production’ by any means available to us,” he said. “The Federal Government and oil companies – local and multinationals – operating in Delta State are hereby put on notice that effective from midnight, June 30, this year of upheavals 2017, there should be no more oil and gas operations in Delta State.”
Attacks against the oil facilities held by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and foreign oil majors have for the most part stopped since the beginning of the year, even as president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has made diplomatic efforts to ease the grievances of the residents of the Niger Delta and their Niger Delta Avengers.
One proposed solution is to legalize the makeshift refineries in the area, which process stolen oil for local consumption. Abuja would offer a limited volume of crude to the residents at a discounted price to refine at the small refineries in exchange for peace.
But the diplomacy and proposed solutions are not enough for the New Delta Avengers. “Those who try our resolve shall be made a canon folder and used to show our determination. All members of the Joint Action Committee are hereby authorized to return to the trenches,” the group says.
On May 23rd, militants attacked a pipeline operated by the Nigerian Gas Company Ltd., a subsidiary of the NNPC, Nigeria Gas Company spokesman Violin Antaih told AFP at the time.
“It has been confirmed, even by the community people, that it was a third-party sabotage,” Antaih said. Analysts say the attack served as a warning, that the destruction could return, should talks fail.