Blows up Agip trunk line in Bayelsa
BY EMEKA MAMAH & EMMA AMAIZE
WARRI – AFTER cessation of hostilities for some months in the Niger Delta, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, weekend, threatened to bomb telecommunications giant MTN, SACOIL and other investments by South Africans in Nigeria over alleged interference of President Jacob Zuma in its struggle for justice in the oil producing communities.
The militant group also bombed a trunk pipeline at Brass in Bayelsa State. The pipeline belongs to Italy’sEni SpA, ENI, which lost “around 4,000” barrels per day of “equity production” from the incident, the Rome-based company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday confirming the attack.
The pipeline carries crude to an export terminal in the coastal town of Brass, about 250 kilometres south west of the oil-industry hub of Port Harcourt.
In a veiled reference to the tribulation of its assumed leader, Henry Okah and the postponement of his trial by a South-African court, the militant group said the South African President had reduced himself to a mercenary of President Goodluck Jonathan.
However, the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta has dismissed the threat, saying the warning came from disgruntled militants who want to benefit from expired amnesty.
Henry Okah, a suspected MEND leader, faces trial in South Africa on terrorism charges related to car bombings on Oct. 1, 2010, that killed 12 people in Abuja for which MEND claimed responsibility.
SA govt, MTN react
However, South Africa’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation said it would investigate the threat against the country’s investments in Nigeria. “It’s a matter we will look into definitely; terrorism has to be rooted out,” Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the ministry said on telephone yesterday. “The authorities in Nigeria have always been responsive to acts that are unlawful and will deal with this as they always have dealt with such threats.”
MTN is leaving security matters to the Nigerian and South African authorities and has no further comment, Rich Mkhondo, a spokesman for the Johannesburg-based company, said in a response through e-mail yesterday.
MEND said: “In the dark days to come, MTN, SACOIL, and other South African investments will pay a heavy price for the interference of Jacob Zuma in the legitimate fight for justice in the Niger Delta by its people. The South African President has reduced himself to the position of a hired thug for Goodluck Jonathan”.
The group, which also announced a new phase of its struggle for justice, claimed responsibility for the January 28, bombing of the Ogbogbabene country home of the Minister for Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe in Burtutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
According to the group, “On Saturday, February 4, at 1930hrs, fighters of the MEND attacked and destroyed the Agip trunk line at Brass in Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.”
It said: “This relatively insignificant attack is a reminder of our presence in the creeks of the Niger Delta and a sign of things to come. We have constantly warned Nigerians about Goodluck Jonathan and the people running Nigeria. Events of the last few months have vindicated our position. Rather than address serious issues facing the nation and its citizens, Goodluck Jonathan squanders public funds on tribalistic sycophants and thugs calling themselves ex-militants.
“Nigerians should disregard the idle threats and ranting of imaginary militant groups and other hired ‘Jonathan praise singers.’ Besides empty talk, they are unable to help Jonathan in anyway. In fact most so called ex-militants are hiding in Abuja or Lagos, not venturing near their villages in the Niger Delta.
“Our silence thus far, has been strategic and at the right time, we will reduce Nigerian oil production to zero and drive off our land, thieving oil companies. British Petroleum is prepared to pay $25 billion compensation for the Gulf of Mexico oil spillage, yet for worse spillages in the Niger Delta; our people are paid with death at the hands of the Nigerian military.
The MEND understands the negative impact our assault on the Nigerian oil industry will have on the ordinary citizen in a country which relies almost entirely on one source of revenue. Unfortunately, the floundering government of Nigeria is more concerned with enriching themselves than attending to the problems of the Niger Delta and the continuously depreciating standard of living of the ordinary Nigerian.
“A government incapable of managing roads, refineries, power stations and other basic infrastructure is again squandering valuable public funds on a committee tasked with investigating the viability of nuclear energy for electricity generation. The government of Nigeria is incapable of safely disposing household refuse.
How then do they plan to deal with the toxic by-product of nuclear energy? In this new phase of our struggle for justice, the MEND will pay considerable attention to dealing with security forces and traitorous indigenes of the Niger Delta.
“In this regard, MEND wishes to confirm that our fighters were responsible for the attack at Ogbobagbene in Burutu Local Government area of Delta State, on the compound of Godsday Orubebe, Minister for Niger Delta.
The general public is again advised to take very seriously, any warnings of impending bombings. Such warnings will always precede a bombing, providing sufficient time for evacuation. Specific members of the security services and the media will in addition to email, receive notification of an impending attacks by SMS in order to minimize the possibility of civilian casualties.”
Beware of fake MEND — JTF
Meanwhile, the Joint Military Task Force, JTF, operating in the Niger Delta said recent unrest stemmed from criminal gangs, who wanted expired amnesty benefits, adding that it was not possible to run an inelastic amnesty programme.
JTF Spokesman, Timothy Antigha, reacting to the MEND statement in Bayelsa yesterday, said, “unfortunately, people who were never part of the agitation have emerged and want to claim amnesty and its benefits by force. The JTF advises Niger Deltans to be mindful of people, who are out to swindle them by wrongfully appropriating the identity of the erstwhile leadership of MEND to curry sympathy for their selfish and criminal interests.”
Security sources say the remaining militants in the Niger Delta do not have the capacity to do the damage seen in the past, which at its height cut out more than a third of the OPEC-member’s output.
Bayelsa, the home state of President Jonathan, holds a governorship election on Saturday. However, military presence in the state has been beefed up ahead of Saturday, February 11 vote.
Threat to oil output
Attacks by MEND and other militant groups in the Delta, home to Nigeria’s oil industry, cut the nation’s crude output by more than 28 percent from 2006 to 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Disruptions eased after thousands of fighters, seeking a greater share of oil revenue for the region’s inhabitants, dropped their weapons and accepted an official amnesty. MEND refuses to disarm, saying the government hasn’t met its demands for control of the Niger Delta’s oil.