In less than 24 hours after soldiers withdrew from Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State which they had occupied since a week, another detachment of troops yesterday raided Ogulaghan community around 8:20 a.m.
They were in search of members of the militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) who last Friday again bombed the Shell Export Terminal at Forcados, Warri South West Council, Delta State.
The pipeline which had been attacked and bombed in the past was undergoing repairs when it was destroyed again by the militants who had warned that it should not be repaired.
According to the Chairman of Ogulaghan Kingdom chapter of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Doubra Collins Okotete, well armed soldiers around 8:20 a.m. yesterday raided Ogulaghan community, harassed, intimidated and arrested some persons whom he said were innocent, over the Shell Export Terminal Pipeline that was blown up.
He gave the names of those arrested as: Chief Peter Tuasinde, Mr. Clement Ibada, Mr. John Borme, Mr. Goddey Miebi, the community chairman Capt. Solomon Prebor and community Public Relations Officer, Mr. Agediga Henrey.
Okotete said: “For over 50 years of oil exploration and exploitation in our kingdom, our people have always co-operated, supported and created the enabling environment for peaceful operations despite the marginalisation shown in return to our people by these multinational oil companies.
“We strongly condemned the recent raid and arrest of our people. We are calling on the Joint Task Force to release and correct the anomalies done to our people.”
And the Ayakoromo community which, a few years ago, was invaded and destroyed by soldiers, yesterday denied the rumours making the rounds that sponsors of the Niger Delta Avengers and their arsenal were being hidden in the community.
The community, according to its spokesman, Arerebo Salaco Yerinmene Peter’s Jnr, was shocked when their attention was drawn to an online news publication purportedly accusing some illustrious Ijaw sons namely Frank Omare, Chief Johnny Aribogha and Chief Boro Pudu as the sponsors of the Niger Delta Avengers.
“This same publication on June 4, 2016 also alleged that members of the Niger Delta Avengers are domiciled in Ayakoromo to get arms reinforcement.
“This is the highest exhibition of falsehood embellished with hateful propaganda. Though we are not the legal counsel nor spokespersons to the accused persons and as such not entitled to speak on their behalf, we make this swift response that the report is a calculated attempt to blackmail illustrious sons of Ijaw nation and justify another genocidal attack against the good people of Ayakoromo community,” he said.
The spokesman disclosed that Ayakoromo community is a peace-loving community that does not harbour nor encourage antisocial vices.
According to him, the community has always driven away any of its citizens whose presence constitutes a threat to the stability of the community.
Also, indigenes of Oporoza which had been under military occupation for a week said soldiers broke into houses under the guise of looking for militants and weapons and in the process looted the entire community. They added that the departing soldiers withdrew from the community on Saturday with their loot.
The Spokesman of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekema, who spoke with The Guardian on phone yesterday, said the soldiers took away two new speed boats belonging to the Gbaramatu Traditional Council and vandalised the community’s guest house where they had forcibly stayed. He said the community was still estimating the total items looted from the community by soldiers.
Meanwhile, Eni, the parent company of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), has said that the oil firm’s production has been cut short by 65,000 barrels per day following Friday’s attack on its pipeline in Bayelsa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday quoted a spokesperson for Eni as confirming the development. “The total deferred production due to the attack is 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily. I can confirm that. There is no further impact on production, since all production from the swamp area has already been stopped days ago,” the e-mail from Eni’s Media Relations Unit said.
According to crude production figures provided by the oil firm, the country is losing about 3.12 million dollars in revenue each day the NAOC operated facility remains out of production.
Similarly, Mr. Shola Omole, the spokesman for Aiteo, operator of the Nembe Creek Trunk Line which came under attack by the NDA on May 28, said the line which conveyed crude to Bonny export terminal had been shut.Omole said some 75,000 barrels daily production was deferred as the line remained out of service.
However, a new group, the Niger Delta Volunteers (NDV) yesterday said it was declaring total support for the activities of the NDA for the emancipation of the people of the region.
An electronic document statement co-signed by Generals Ekpo Ekpo of the Akwa Ibom Command and his Cross River counterpart, Edem Hensh, said the struggle should not be left alone for NDA, but should be made a collective effort to actualise the dream of a common Niger Delta.
As the government searches for a solution to the crisis, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Ayiri Emami yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to dismiss the call for dialogue with the NDA, just as he condemned the activities of militants.
Ayiri said the struggle to promote peace and ensure the development of the Niger Delta had been undermined by the emergence of the militant group, and canvassed military confrontation to check criminal activities in the region.
He added that rather than cause tension for the Buhari government that means well for the region following the takeoff of the Ogoniland clean-up, the failure of past leaders of the region including former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan should be blamed for the woes of the Niger Delta.
Emani who spoke with reporters at a solidarity rally of the South-south zone APC in Benin City, noted: “Six, seven years ago, we had a similar problem when the clamour for dialogue was high. And indeed we had the opportunity to produce the president of this country for six years and we did nothing with it.”