The renewed attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta region may in no way be nearing an end following the recent threat by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
The group has restated its threat to carry on with the bombing of oil installations in the region until the Federal Government accedes to its demands.
NDA, a new militant group, had taken up arms against the government in what it claimed to be its own way of pressing for fair deal for the people of Niger Delta, especially in the allocation of oil blocs.
NDA is also demanding release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who has been in detention for close to five months.
The group said it wants the release of the IPOB leader as part of conditions for ceasation of hostility in the region.
Besides the conditions, the group has also issued a quit notice to former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and General Theophilus Danjuma, to vacate the Niger Delta area or face dire consequences.
The group recently gave a two week deadline to multi-national oil firms to vacate the region, reiterating its threat to cripple the nation’s economy.
The Niger Delta Avengers’ threat is coming against the backdrop of the claim by some former militant leaders who reportedly denied being part of the amnesty programme put in place by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
It was gathered that some of the militant leaders are currently regrouping and spoiling for war against the Federal Government.
Notable among these emerging groups is a group known as the Concerned Militant Leaders (CML), which existence came to public consciousness shortly after the arrest, detention and the incarceration of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director, Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
CML’s solidarity with the detained IPOB leader was preceded by the call by Niger Delta People’s Democratic Front (NDPDF) for his release.
The Niger Delta People’s Democratic Front (NDPDF) is led by Precious Iyoyo (aka General Playboy).
The group had warned the Federal Government of the consequences of keeping Kanu in detention, describing it as provocative.
CML, through its spokesperson, who preferred to be addressed as General Ben, had earlier in January, given a 31- day ultimatum to the Federal Government to release Kanu, and vowed to launch attacks on oil installations as well as Federal Government establishments.
The group had also warned that failure to release Kanu could force it to resort to the kidnapping of expatriates.
It was gathered that CML’s operations transcend the Niger Delta region.
This same group, it was gathered, was alleged to be responsible for the attack on a merchant ship in February. The incident happened before the expiration of 31-day ultimatum given by the CML.
In a statement released online, General Ben admitted that his group carried out the operation, off Bakassi Peninsula on Nigerian waterways.
He threatened that his men would blow up the vessel and members of the crew onboard, adding that the attack was carried out, “to let the government know that the group does not make empty threats.”
Reacting to the group’s threat, the Federal Government had threatened to treat the group like common criminals and saboteurs. Not deterred by the threat, the group followed up with more attacks and blowing up of oil pipelines, as well as killings of security personnel.
It was gathered that the warlords are enjoying the backing of some retired military officers who feel disgruntled over their premature retirement from service. But, the CML has severally denied this.
Reacting to the claim, General Ben said the group had been on the struggle for many years, adding that CML is moved by the realities in the country and not influenced by any individual because, according to him, the supposed backers could turn out to be saboteurs.
“Nobody is pushing us; we are the ones pushing ourselves because nobody is a blind man in this country. The injustice, the marginalization going on in this country is very clear. There is so much hardship, poverty in this country and a few persons are controlling our commonwealth, while we are dying of hunger. How can we be happy in a situation like this?
“Even if we are being backed up, does it really matter? If millions of people are suffering and few individuals are acquiring wealth here and there, who is selfish? We are saying that Nigerian government is selfish and we must resist that.
“To us, the Federal Government has no case against Nnamdi Kanu. If they refuse to let him go, we will refuse to let them have peace. There is no law in Nigeria. The laws are targeted at the poor, not the rich. Court would say release this person; government would refuse. So, there is no law because some individuals seem to be above law. There is high level of impunity in this country.
“That is why we have decided to leave this country to another where there would be rule of law. And that is Biafra. We strongly believe we would achieve it by the grace of God. We are undaunted. It is obvious. Nothing would make us back out from the struggle. It is a vow. Look at the South-south region, the nation’s source of wealth for instance. What shows that we are part of the country? You use the money from this region to develop other areas and impoverish us,” he said.
General Ben said that CML is part of the NDA, stating that his group is in support of the two-week ultimatum issued by Niger Delta Avengers to the oil firms in the region. Similarly, the CML spokesman restated the group’s earlier order that Fulani herdsmen should leave the region.
On the attacks on oil facilities, General Ben gave kudos to the NDA warriors, describing the group’s activities as a welcome development to liberate the Niger Delta region and their brothers in South-east. He warned that their next targets would be Exxonmobil and Frontier Oil firms.
“What can forestall the execution of this operation is for the authorities concerned to pay prompt attention to the issues that necessitated this agitation. We want to cripple the economy of the country and to show the people ruling this country that, militancy now is not and will not be what they witnessed several years ago. We are reformed and have learnt from the past.”
On the likely consequences of the military/militants war already declared by the Defence Headquarters, the CML spokesperson said it was unfortunate that innocent people might be affected but he added that it was the price such people might have to pay.
Reacting to a recent statement, where another group of militants condemned the recent activities of NDA, the CML spokesperson described them as sellouts. He said they were few individuals that had ‘dined with Federal Government’.
“We will not reply them; but we will surprise them beyond their imagination. These persons know that they have nothing to say or do. The people countering us are those that have dined with Federal Government. We are not going to reply them. We are going to surprise them.”