‘Buhari Ignored Early Warnings Of Attacks’ | Independent Newspapers Limited
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‘Buhari Ignored Early Warnings Of Attacks’

President Buhari
Posted: May 29, 2016 at 6:07 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


…As Niger Delta Avengers Blow Up Shell, Agip Pipelines




As the newly formed Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other insurgent groups ramp up attacks on oil installations in the oil rich region of the country, indications have emerged that the presidency, military and indeed, the security agencies, had ample warnings of the attacks as far back as October, last year, till early this year, on moves to resurrect insurgency in the region.

Specifically, letters, purportedly written to President Muhammadu Buhari through military and security contacts, party chieftains and politicians alleged plans to sabotage installations, arms buildup, training camps set up and stashing away of monies for the fight. All these were said to have been made available to Federal Government but were ignored.

“Instead, those of us who made these disclosures have become enemies of those surrounding the president and other militants back in the creek,” said Isreal Akpodoro, National President, National Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-Agitators.

The ex-militant leader, along with Micheal Johnny, a high chief from Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State, and two others simply identified as Africa and General Akpariasa, are said to have reached out to the defence and security agencies at different times on the matter, warning that insurgents backed largely by elements from previous administration “and politicians from the North,” are behind the current NDA campaign.

“They will stop at nothing until they divide the country,” Akpodoro said.

Independent was told exclusively that since October 2015, till date, three letters, sighted by the newspaper, has been written to the president on the alleged plan to foment trouble in the region.

On October 6, last year, for instance, Akpodoro, wrote to President Buhari outlining plans of militants he believes to be loyal to Government Ekpemupolo, known more as Tompolo, to start blowing up pipelines in the creek.

According to details of the letter, it was alleged that camps of the re-emerging insurgents are stationed in Bakassi Creeks, Cross River State; Ibono Creeks, Akwa Ibom; Akokoru River, Bonny and Okirika Creeks in Rivers State; Azuzuma, Gbarain, Nembe River, Brass, in Bayelsa State. In Delta State, there are camps of the insurgents in Egbema and Okporoza. One of the camps, Independent learnt, is near a guest house purportedly owned by Tompolo.

The former warlord, it was learnt, hid in the guest house in 2009 when the Federal Government came all out for him.

According to the letter, there are heavy caches of arms. They’re nine gunboats available to the insurgents; they own a jetty opposite Chevron yard in Warri from which they mount operations into the seas; there are sophisticated small arms in their kitty that may well rival that of the army, the letter reportedly noted.

The letter was again sent on January 6, 2016, according to them.

On May 17, this year, another letter was dispatched to Ministry of Defence raising these threats again and outlining what government must do to checkmate the problem. The militants allege that the Federal Government has largely ignored the warnings because “those Buhari surrounded himself with are incompetent,” stated Akpodoro.

He pointedly accused office holders in Buhari administration of nursing sinister motives.

“Rotimi Amaechi, Ibim Seminitari, Dakuku Peterside, Paul Boro are not being sincere with the president on this matter,” the ex-militant said.

Amaechi is the Minister for Transport, Semenitari is acting Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Boro is Special Adviser on Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta.

Akpodoro told Independent that on several occasions he met with these office holders on this matter but was ignored.

Reacting to this charge, however, one of the accused office holders who asked not to be mentioned by name, acknowledged having been reached on the matter. “But what he asked for was money,” the office holder said.

Nigeria is now producing less than 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), less than Angola and well below the 2.2 million bpd assumed in the 2016 state budget since the insurgencies began in the Niger Delta.

On Friday, the militants attacked crude oil and gas pipelines operated by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the Niger Delta.

The militant group tweeted later that they had blown up a gas and crude pipeline near the town of Warri that was protected by soldiers and operated by NNPC.

It had claimed also the attack on Chevron’s main power feed in the area which shut down the U.S. firm’s onshore operations.

The Avengers, who have given oil firms until end of the month to leave, say they want independence for Niger Delta and have intensified attacks in recent weeks, pushing oil output to its lowest in more than 20 years and compounding Nigeria’s economic problems.

Though government has responded by moving in army reinforcements, British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said this month that President Buhari needed to deal with the root causes of poverty and anger about oil spills.

Perhaps showing willingness for talks, Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum, said on Thursday that the amnesty programme for former militants, signed in 2009 to end a previous insurgency, needed to improve.

Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Avengers has allegedly blown up trunk lines belonging to Nigerian Agip Oil Company and Shell Petroleum Development Company in Bayelsa State.

It was learnt that the Avengers blew up Nembe 1, 2, and 3 Brass to Bonny trunk line belonging to the two oil majors.

It was learnt that the incident occurred about 2.15a.m on Saturday in Nembe, Nembe Local Government Area of the state.

“We heard multiple attacks last night,” said Bello Bina, an official in Bayelsa State, confirming that the Nembe pipeline carrying Bonny Light crude exports had been hit.

Shell, which exports Bonny Light, was not immediately available for comment. But Nengi James, chairman of the Nembe Oil and Gas Committee that liaises with oil firms, also said the pipeline had come under attack.

The “Avengers”, who have been targeting oil and gas facilities as part of what they say is a battle for the Niger Delta’s independence, said on twitter it had attacked the Nembe pipeline at 0215 local time.

“Something Big is about to happen,” the group later tweeted.

Shell declared force majeure on Bonny Light loadings after a previous attack on the Nembe creek trunk pipeline, but some exports had been continuing with delays caused by repair work.

The army raided the Oporoza community, which is home to Government Ekpemupolo, known as Tompolo, a former militant leader who security officials have linked to the “Avengers”, residents said. He has denied any connection to the group.

“Men, women and children, everybody have fled Oporoza because the military invaded our village around 0145 this morning,” said Eric Omare, spokesman for the Ijaw Youth Council.

“They are harassing people, arresting some boys and they wounded one of our chiefs,” he said. “Everybody is still in the bush crying for help.”

A military source said seven people had been arrested, adding that explosives, arms and ammunition had been found in their possession.