Niger Delta Keeps Boiling Amidst Neglect, Suffering | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Niger Delta Keeps Boiling Amidst Neglect, Suffering

Posted: Jul 24, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


Niger Delta Avengers

Niger Delta Avengers


 The Niger Delta region is some kind of paradox within the Nigerian nation. While the region is practically the cow providing the milk through which other parts of the country are nurtured, life in the oil communities is less than bearable. The region with all its oil wealth is most depraved, as a consequence of long years of crude exploration and exploitation.

The people living in the areas where the oil companies run their operations have been most affected, leading to several years of agitation for better development of the region. The reality is that the efforts of government at addressing the problems of the region have not led to any improvement in the living conditions of the people.




Thus, faced with alleged betrayal of some of their leaders and non-chalance on the part of the multinational oil companies, the youths of the region decided to take their fate in their hands. Rightly or wrongly, the believe that with the force of the arms, they can get whatever they want not only from the states and federal government, but also from the oil companies, which they believe have been milking them dry.

Either as militants, agitators or sea pirates, the youths try to snatch whatever they can from the establishments and whoever they believe is in control of the wealth accruing from the region. This has led to a high level of insecurity, which in turn has brought about a lot of tension in the Niger Delta region. But, although acts of violence and killings are found in almost all the states in the region, they are mostly common in Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa states. In these states, the militants and the sea pirates are in control of affairs. They do not care whether there are governments in place in these states or not. As far as they are concerned, they are the government.

From the Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State where the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) are in charge to the chagrin of the military, to the Ahoada, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Abua/Odual and Ogoniland in Rivers State as well as Bayelsa State capital, Yenagoa, and the eight local government areas, the stories are the same.

From these places are reports of man’s inhumanity to man. People are killed, women are raped frequently while stealing, robberies, sea piracy and illegal oil bunkering are the order of the day. The criminals do not see eye-to-eye with security agencies, either uniformed or otherwise. As far as they are concerned, they are the law, or are even above the law.

The situation in these states is worrisome as the people live in fear. All efforts of the security agencies and the state governments to restore order are always rebuffed, even as the security operatives are killed frequently. As it is, all hopes lie in the ability of the Federal Government to muster sufficient political will to bring this ugly situation under control. Can the All Progressives Congress (APC) controlled Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari be able to do this, especially when these states are under the control of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?

Gbaramatu Kingdom, A Ghost Community In Delta

The Gbaramatu Kingdom, a formerly bubbling community in the Niger Delta region, has become almost a ghost town.

A first time visitor to this Delta State community will be shocked to see the present condition of the place. Residents, including students, women and the aged, have fled to safer havens, not only because of the resurgence of militancy by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), but also due to the heavy military presence, with the jet fighters deployed to the area by the federal government.

The military personnel are in the Gbaramatu Kingdom under strict instructions from the Presidency to smoke out the Niger Delta Avengers and bring them to the Nigerian Army headquarters for prosecution.

Gbaramatu Kingdom comprising communities like Okporoza, Kokodiagbene, Okerenkoko, Kurutie and many others host most of the oil firms in Delta State. Chevron, Shell, Agip and other oil prospecting firms have pipeline that run cross the area. Besides, they have their base in the Ijaw communities. It is therefore the major centre for oil production in the state. Besides Gbaramatu, Escravos and Burutu are also oil bearing communities in Delta.

Not minding the quantum of oil being produced in the area, Gbaramatu Kingdom cannot boast of any infrastructure. Even basic necessities of life like potable water, electricity, good roads, schools, hospitals, among others there to show for the wealth being generated for the government from this area.

It is indeed lacking in everything that makes life worth living while the people groan with pains while there is no solution in sight for their pitiable condition. Besides, the environment is degraded as the oil firms have destroyed the ecosystem and the whole area is polluted.

The very few schools in the riverine areas lack enough teachers for the few student population. The children, especially the girls, are always seen roaming the streets. Hence they become easy prey to young boys who make them mothers at very early age.

 The NDA’S Renewed Onslaught

While the nation and the Nigeria Army were sleeping, taking NDA for granted, the militants unleashed their first onslaught on February 10, 2016, through a coordinated multiple attacks on the Shell Bonny Soku Gas Export line. They resumed attacks on oil facilities in May with the attack on Chevron Valve Platform located at Abiteye, a Chevron platform offshore.

Oil experts say the platform is the most significant for Chevron as it serves as the main connecting point where all other platforms are linked up, and it also serves as a fulcrum to chevron BOP and the Chevron Tank Farm

The meeting of Ijaw leaders from seven states that make up the Niger Delta in Warri, Delta State, threw up serious challenges. They met to deliberate on the renewed violence in the region with particular reference to the destruction of critical infrastructure. But the forum ended lamenting that many Ijaw people could not be accounted for till now.

The meeting, which was at the instance of Ijaw National Congress (INC), revealed a lot of severe humanitarian crisis in several communities such as Oporoza, Kurutie, Kokodiagbene among others.

INC’s Scribe, Gbaramatu Community Leader Speak

Dr Bibobra Orubebe, INC Secretary, corroborated the situation when he posited that several Ijaw people cannot be accounted for and their whereabouts are still unknown, including their condition as to whether they are alive or dead.

“Ijaw children who went to write the National Examination Council of Nigeria (NECO) were stranded and several of our people are still in the forest and the wounded unattended to. The situation is in dire need. We condemn the use of violence by both civilians and the Federal Government without respect to the sanctity f human lives,’’ Orubebe claimed.

Comrade Sheriff Mulade, Chairman of Kokodiagbene Community, Gbaramatu Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the Gbaramatu people expressed disappointment over the on-going siege by security men to the area. He maintained that it is the belief of the people that the siege is not about chasing the militants away, but about the oil.

According to him, the two weeks ceasefire ordered by the Federal Government to pave way for dialogue with NDA representatives was been breached by Joint Military Taskforce (JTF), even as he revealed that the Tebujoh Community was invaded on June 15, 2016 at about 6.30am by the JTF.

The people of Gbaramatu Kingdom, he said, cried to the federal government over the continue invasion of communities by the military, who claimed that they were searching for rampaging militants.

Mulade said it is imperative to draw the attention of Federal Government to the continued harassment, intimidation and invasion of communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom, even as he added that several residents were beaten and speedboats belonging to individuals seized and taken away by the JTF.

“It is unfortunate that the military refused to obey and respect the president’s order by arresting innocent citizens and invading riverine communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom’’.

Tompolo, Emami React




High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, decried the military siege to the Gbaramatu Kingdom, describing the development as unfortunate. Tompolo, who spoke through a statement, expressed disappointment with the federal government and the military over the siege on Gbaramatu communities under the guise of looking for members of the NDA.

Ayiri Emami, an Itshekiri leader, fired back, questioning the reason Delta State government set up an Advocacy Committee to stop pipeline vandalisation in the creeks of the state. He wondered who the committee, headed by the state’s deputy governor, would meet in the creeks, t Itsekiri militants or Ijaw militants.

While the argument continues on who is really behind the bombing, the military jet fighters are still in Gbaramatu Kingdom. The communities had been deserted and the people abandoned their means of livelihood.

But with the military and the Navy occupation of the area, the vandals had been carrying out their destructions unhindered. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, was once quoted to have said that the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) had been using black power (juju) in their operations. Whether what he said is true or not, the pipelines are still being blown up. One wonders who is winning, the military or the Avengers.

Insecurity: Flashpoints Of Militant Activities In Rivers



The insecurity situation in Rivers State did not start with the Governor Nyesom Wike government. It dated back to more than a decade ago. Available records show that cultism, which started like gangsterism, went back to the administration of former Governor Peter Otunnaya Odili, when he held sway as the governor of the state for eight years.

That was when the cult war between Ateke Tom and Asari Dokubo, leaders of Niger Delta Volunteer Front (NDVF) and Niger Delta People’s Force (NDPF) respectively came to limelight with their camps and loyalists. They had a clear-cut definition of their controlled territories. Overstepping each other’s territory was an invitation for war, hence, the several bloodlettings that became a culture in the state at that time.

Today, the story has taken a more dangerous dimension. Cultism and militancy have predictably escalated and the cultists have become almost immune to security watch eyes.

Prior to the 2015 general elections, there was palpable fear of possible electoral violence, but nobody could envisage the bloody dimension it eventually took. There were several pockets of violence during and even after the elections.

In areas like Akuku Toru, Asari Toru, Ahoada East, Ahoada West, Egba/Egbema/Ndoni and Obua/Odual as well as the Ogoni area, the story has been that of harvest of blood.

Akuku Toru/Asari Toru

In the 2015 election, especially on the day of the Presidential election, these two local government areas in Kalabari Kingdom painted a grotesque image of a settlement that must be avoided by all means. On the election day, there was sporadic exchange of gunshots, buildings were burnt and no fewer than ten or more people were either killed or wounded.

This axis had been known as one of the most dangerous areas that was usually avoided by anybody who knows the security situation in Rivers State. Because of the unpredictable presence of several cult groups, there was no guaranty of human safety in these council areas as disagreement between or among the cult rivalries could lead to bloodshed.

The relics of the era of cult war are still present as one takes a trip to this axis. This could be affirmed by the presence of sandbags and the pockets of Army checkpoints from the junction of the east/west road down to the dregs of the creeks.

Ahoada East/Ahoada West

In recent times, news emanating from these two twin local government areas are pathetic. The cultists operating here have adopted a more bizarre way of killing. Icelanders and Greenlanders, the two major cult groups holding sway in these areas, specialise in beheading of their victims.

When they kill their suspected targets, they then behead them and make public show of the gory sight. Though the current fight in these two council areas has been linked to oil contract struggle and the attitude of some influential traditional rulers, the point is that even the indigenes of the areas have gone on self-exile thereby giving the cultists the free hand to display their expertise in bloodletting.

 Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni And Abua/Odual

The story of these local government areas is not different from what obtains in the other places earlier mentioned. As boundary councils, there is also a conflict of interest among oil contractors who armed their supporters to wade off their opponents.

Hardly a day passes by without a cult clash happening in these areas. People are killed at random, a situation that has instilled fear among the people. Some traditional chiefs have chosen to relocate to Port Harcourt, the state capital, for security reasons. Even at that, they claim they still receive threat calls.


Ogoni is one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the state. Only few months ago, in April, to be specific, more than nineteen people were killed by the Nigerian soldiers. The action was allegedly provoked by the assault meted out to innocent people by a former militant leader, Solomon Ndigbara.

Though this allegation had since been faulted, it was believed that it the development was government’s secret plot to get rid of staunch supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in favour of APC. Thus, Ogoni has remained volatile for many years now and people are scared of visiting the area.

Besides the issue of cultism, Ogoni is also seen as notorious in communal clashes and in the course of that, lives are usually lost and properties destroyed.


 The Convulsing State Of Bayelsa



Bayelsa State has gained notoriety for frequent cases of crime and violence being perpetrated by armed gangs who operate both day and night. Their criminal activities have heightened the challenge of insecurity in the state capital, Yenagoa, and the eight local government areas.

Hardly a day passes without the 85 per cent coastal state recording one or more criminal incidents. Residents now sleep with one eye closed. In Yenagoa, for instance, cases of handbag snatching, breaking into homes and cars, gang related killings and shootings, car theft and stealing of car batteries are common experiences.

The situation is even worse on the waterways and the creeks. Those who travel along the waterways are maimed, killed, raped and their valuables carted away by sea pirates who operate with dangerous weapons and Double 200 horsepower engine speed boats. While trade and commerce have been greatly hampered, many families have lost their loved ones to the activities of the sea robbers and kidnappers.

Also, critical national assets like oil pipelines have not been spared by the self-acclaimed Niger Delta agitators and illegal oil refinery operators who bomb and breach the oil facilities.

All the local governments – Brass, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Nembe, Sagbama, Ekeremor, Yenagoa, Southern Ijaw and Ogbia – have territories controlled by criminal gangs. In several instances, policemen and soldiers have been victims of attacks by hoodlums while expatriates have been abducted in their numbers. The investment climate in the state is riddled with fear, uncertainties and violence.

In all of these, Nembe, Ogbia, Brass, Southern Ijaw and Yenagoa have been identified as major corridors of sea piracy, kidnapping and large-scale crude oil theft activities.

In the last few years, claims by Governor Seriake Dickson that his administration had made substantial investments on security had been punctured by the activities of dare-devil armed men. The investment on security is in addition to undisclosed huge sums of money controlled by the governor as “security votes”. Years after he signed into law anti-kidnapping and other social vices bill passed by the House of Assembly, no kidnapper had been arrested and successfully prosecuted.

Although the security agencies are trying their best to protect life and property in the state, it would seem that their best is not good enough, given the  increasing spate of criminality.

It is believed in many quarters that residents  in Bayelsa suffer insecurity on two flanks: brutality, indiscriminate arrest-for-bail and extortion by security personal, and attacks and robbery by hoodlums.

The situation of insecurity in the state has also extended to media houses operating in Yenagoa with journalists, as in elsewhere, having their fare share of the bitter pill. In May, Mr. Tonye Yemoleigha, a journalist with Radio Bayelsa, was brutalized by an Air Force operative on very flimsy excuses.

Only last month, Silverbird’s Rythm 94.7 station in Yenagoa was invaded by armed youths who disrupted a live interview programme and got two guests in the studios beaten to a pulp. Also, armed robbers stormed the state-owned Niger Delta Television (NDTV) station at Gbarantoru, the second in a few months, and carted away valuables worth millions of Naira, placing some workers on duty at gunpoint.

Curiously, the state government did not condemn the incidents, neither was any suspect arrested and prosecuted, a development that was viewed as suggestive of helplessness.

The insecurity challenge vis-a-vis government’s inexplicable helplessness is giving citizens and stakeholders sleepless nights.

Worried by the growing insecurity, the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on July 12 paid a visit to Dickson’s Special Adviser on Security Matters, Mr. Boma Spero-Jack, in his office at Government House.

At the visit, Spero-Jack explained why the government has been grappling with the challenge of heightening insecurity and violence in the state.

He said it has become very difficult for the government to maintain its security architecture, including the security patrol vehicles of the state-owned security outfit, Operation Doo Akpo.

Spero-Jack attributed the inability of the administration to maintain security to dwindling revenue accruing to the state from the Federation Account.

He expressed deep concern over the repeated robbery and violent attacks in which media establishments have become victims in recent times, describing it as unfortunate and unacceptable.

He said:  “Because of the drop in allocation that accrues to the state, government is unable to replace aged vehicles of the outfit that were usually stationed at red spots across the state.

“Before the election, we were all witnesses to the successes of Doo Akpo, but when the election came, we all knew we would have lots of security challenges because politicians that gave guns to criminals to carry out their evil intentions failed to retrieve the guns from the criminals.

“In a society like that, what do you expect? People would be wielding guns and brandishing machetes.

“We usually had Doo Akpo vehicles stationed at every street in the state but today we cannot do that because the government has little resources and cannot buy new vans to replace the aged vans we bought since 2012 when we began this operation.

“It is not that we cannot go to the hideouts of criminals in the state but the problem is that the funds to pay the man hour and buy new vans are scarce, but we want to assure you that we will do something about your situation”.

Spero-Jack however said the government has tried to ensure prevention of acts of criminality despite the economic crunch and assured the media and journalists of their protection by the government.

In his remarks, the chairman of NUJ, Bayelsa State Council, Mr. John Angese, lamented the increasing level of crime and violent attacks on media houses in Yenagoa by armed men.

He called on the state government to live up to its responsibility to protect life and property.

Other civil society groups have also condemned the insecurity and incessant cases of brutality and extortion of residents by security operatives.

The civil society groups comprising the Civil Liberties Organisarion (CLO), Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisations Forum (BANGOF) and the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) observed at a joint press briefing in Yenagoa that human rights violation in Bayelsa was on “a geometric increase”.

The chairman of BANGOF, Robinson Kuroghobogha, who read the statement of the groups, asserted that men of the armed forces and other security agencies, especially the police force, only have the mandate to provide security for citizens and not to harass and intimidate them.

Robinson who was flanked by Nengi James, CLO chairman, Dise Ogbise-Erhisere, FIDA chairman, Alagoa Morris, former CLO secretary, among other officials, cited the recent brutal assaults on Yemoleigha, and Mrs. Philomena Briggs, a student, by five policemen, as some examples too many.

“It has come to the notice of the civil society that the rate of assault, harassment, intimidation and unlawful extortion of law-abiding citizens in Yenagoa by armed security personnel has been on a geometric  increase”, he said.

Robinson stated that acts of brutality on residents by the security operatives were a violation of their fundamental human rights guaranteed in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human  and People’s Rights.

“The human rights community and indeed all law-abiding citizens of Bayelsa are seriously concerned with the excessive conduct of armed security personnel”, he added.