Suspected militants may have renewed hostilities against oil companies operating in the Niger Delta.
For example, a group yesterday claimed it was behind the attack on an oil pipeline at Koluama community in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
The Friday explosion reportedly damaged the pipeline belonging to Conoil.
The group, Koluama Seven Brothers, in statement by one Angel Michael, described the attack as a warning, saying: “Our early morning hours’ strike of 12:20 a.m., January 4, 2018, at Angel II field of Conoil is just a warning to Conoil, King Solomon, and his cartel. If Conoil and King Solomon fail to address the issues behind the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), scholarships, job creation for peace and love of the Koluama clan, then we (will have) no other option (but) launch a strike to shut down Conoil.”
A youth leader in the community, Henry Omietimi, confirmed the explosion, saying his deputy, a member of a security outfit in the area, briefed him on the incident.
He, however, said he was still investigating the development with a view to ascertaining if it was indeed an attack or the aftermath of a burst pipeline.
Some residents of the area feared the explosion signaled the resumption of hostilities by militants. They claimed the loud noise was consistent with previous attacks on oil facilities.
Also, a source at the oil firm, who pleaded anonymity, said the incident has unsettled the minds of workers, leaving many unsure what could happen next.
The spokesman of the Bayelsa command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Mr. J. N. Harcourt, said he was yet to receive full details from the officer in charge of Koluama due to poor network signals.
Secretary General of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Alfred Kemepado, however, condemned the attack.
He said the destruction of oil facilities worsen environmental conditions for people of the area, urging the group to shun violence in its agitation for a better Niger Delta.
He nevertheless said he was of the “opinion that the Federal Government and her allies should be held responsible for the unending reactions from the region.
I had expected sincere attention to be given to people of the region by the President Buhari administration. Instead, even the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that used to work a bit has been totally politicised under this administration.”
He said further: “The Federal Government and multinational companies operating within the region must come up with sustainable policies to deliberately employ more of our indigenous people at all levels of employment and also qualify them for such jobs.”
But Reuwell Oil and Gas Surveillance Company, a security firm overseeing Conoil rigging activities in Koluama, contradicted the group’s claim, saying it was a hoax existing in the imagination of youths masquerading as militants.
It said the declaration was aimed at creating panic and arm-twisting the oil company.
Signed by its chairman, Clifford Wilson, the firm added: “As a surveillance security company, we are fully on ground and working with military personnel of Operation Delta Safe (ODS) and Nigeria Security and Defence Civil Corp (NSCDC) patrolling every nooks and crannies of Conoil activities.
“We urge the misguided youths to shun the idea of attacking any facilities in the area as they will be resisted with brutal force. We urge the peace loving people of Koluama to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement of person or persons that may want to cause violence of any sort on any oil facility in the area.”
Meanwhile, the Eric Omare-led faction of the IYC yesterday condemned the purported endorsement of Buhari by a rival faction.
A statement signed by Omare and spokesman, Henry Iyallah, reads: “We have been inundated with calls, inquiries and expression of anger on the purported endorsement of President Buhari in the February 2019 elections by the IYC in a statement issued by one Mr. Daniel Aniemiesieka, spokesman to Mr. Roland Oweilaemi.
“Our first reaction was to ignore the said endorsement. However, considering the concern shown by patriotic sons and daughters of the Ijaw nation and beyond, we wish to set the records straight.
“Ijaw people and the general public should completely disregard the said endorsement. It is the usual character of those who issued the said statement. Those characters are in the habit of issuing statements on cash-and-carry basis in the name of the IYC, thereby dragging the name of the IYC and the Ijaw nation to disrepute.
“The IYC would not endorse any of the presidential candidates in the February 16, 2019 elections but will only set the general conditions for voting any of them by Ijaw people.
“It would interest the Ijaw nation and the general public to note that this is the third endorsement of different aspirants and candidates across different political parties by these characters in the last six months.
“It would be recalled that sometime in 2018, while some of them were marching on the streets of Abuja endorsing Buhari, others were in the private residence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, then presidential aspirant of the PDP, to endorse him. So, these characters suffer from pay-cash-and-endorse syndrome.
“We therefore call on Ijaw youths to disregard those who are purportedly setting up a committee to discipline Mr. Daniel Aniemieseka because they are all birds of the same feather.
“The expectation of the Ijaw people from whoever wants the support of the Ijaw people has been articulated in several fora, to the effect that the Ijaw will only support any presidential candidate that would restructure Nigeria along the lines of true federalism and resource control.”
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