By Emma Amaize & George Onah
PORT-HARCOURT â€” THE Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) says it has destroyed an oil well head at Cawthorn Channel 1, which supplies crude to Bonny loading terminal in Rivers State. The group also said it had disowned former Commissioner for Information, Chief E.K Clark â€œwho claims to speak for usâ€.
In a related development, the Zonal and Operations Controller of the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Warri, Dr. Henry Oke has said the problem of non-supply of crude oil to the nationâ€™s refineries may be over in two weeks if militants do not disrupt again the ongoing repairs on the bombed Chanomi Creeks crude pipeline in Delta State by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
In an online message to Vanguard signed by Jomo Gbomo, yesterday, it said â€œat the appropriate time, we will be putting together a team of notable Nigerians drawn from every tribe in the Niger Delta and some others outside the region to represent the group.â€
MEND also accused the JTF of abducting a traditional ruler in Egbema, Delta State, Isaac Thikan, and that it feared that the man may have been killed, explaining that it was waiting to ascertain the situation.
I’m not aware â€“ Boyloaf
A senior operative of MEND, â€œGeneralâ€ Boyloaf who was contacted by Vanguard on the matter said, â€œI am not aware of MEND disowning Chief Clark. As far as I am concerned, Chief Clark is a respected leader of the South-South, why should MEND disown himâ€.
MEND can’t disown us â€” Clark
Responding to the attack by MEND, an obviously enraged Chief Clark said, â€œWho is MEND to disown Niger-Delta elders, who are they, how can they say they are disowning us, what power do they have, we are doing things as elders and I donâ€™t even know the person that is speaking for them, if he says he is disowning us, he is on his own, we donâ€™t know himâ€.
He said he was in contact with Ateke Tom, Boyloaf, Tompolo and Farah Dagogo and none of them told him that they were not satisfied with the role being played by the Niger-Delta elders and queried, â€œwho is MEND fighting for therefore if we the elders cannot speak for the people of the Niger-Delta, do MEND have a greater stake in the region than us, how can they say we are speaking for MEND, we speak for the region, who are they to make such statement, donâ€™t they have respect for eldersâ€.
Chief Clark said if some few persons in MEND were opposed to amnesty for selfish reasons against the overall interest of the region, they should not allow their personal interests to becloud the larger interests of the region, saying, â€œas far as I am concerned, various militant leaders across the Niger-Delta have spoken about their attitude to the amnesty, I do not know where MEND people, who their leaders are and who is behind them.
â€œAre they saying that enough is not enough of the killings of innocent people in the Niger-Delta by soldiers under the guise of searching for militants that killed some of their men?
Our women and children are loitering about in the bush and refugee camp, I was told that in the past two weeks, about 60 women have delivered in the bush, hospital and relief camp at Ogbe-Ijoh, are you saying we should allow them to continue to suffer and not return to their homes, what are they saying..
â€œMEND had declared a truce in the past, why should there not be truce now? They are saying that Henry Okah should be released, have I not been championing this for a long time now, why then are they disowning us, have we not defended them enough? We are saying there should be peace in the Niger-Delta and we stand by itâ€, he declared.
JTF denies abduction
But in a swift reaction, the JTF spokesman, Col. Rabe Abubakar, in a statement, yesterday, said the force embarks of freeing hostages and does not abduct anyone, questioning the veracity of MENDâ€™s claim on the abduction.
â€œThe Joint Task Force Operation Restore Hope has in recent times been faced with different kinds of allegations by the faceless group masquerading as so-called freedom fighters under the auspices of MEND.
â€œThese allegations have all been found to be baseless and unfounded and we thank God that the general public has long ago come to terms with the antics of MEND who have now lost credibility and are regarded as criminals and enemy of the Niger Delta region.
â€œThe attention of the JTF has once again been drawn to another allegation by MEND that the security outfit has kidnapped and killed a traditional chief of Egbema in Delta State.
â€œThis statement is not only unfounded and false but a calculated attempt by MEND and their cohorts to turn back the hand of time in derailing the peace efforts of the Government at all levels.
â€œIt is not in our character to arrest innocent and respected citizens not to talk of a whole traditional ruler whom we have no business with.â€
MEND explains attack
â€œShowing no signs of abating, â€˜Hurricane Piper Alphaâ€™ which upgraded to â€˜Hurricane Mosesâ€™ lashed out at the Shell Well Head 20, located at Cawthorn Channel 1 today (yesterday), July 05, 2009 at about 0300 Hrs leaving total destruction in itâ€™s wake. The facility connects to the Bonny loading terminal in Rivers state.
â€œJust in case the JTF spokesman denies that this attack ever took place, no one should be surprised.
â€œFor the JTF to deny that HRM Isaac Thikan, the traditional ruler they abducted is not in their custody should be a worrisome development and may be a confirmation that he has been actually killed. Time will tell.
â€œHurricane Moses is unique. It will combine dialogue in tandem with phased attacks that increase in intensity until its goal has been achieved.â€
Crude-feed to refineries affected â€” DPR
Already, the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) has shut operations because of lack of crude while the Port Harcourt Refining Company and the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company are also down.
Dr. Oke who spoke in an exclusive interview with Vanguard shortly after commissioning a new office of the DPR at the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) depot in Warri said the production of the oil companies in Delta state was near zero at the moment as a result of the attacks on oil installations by the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger-Delta.
Already, the Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) has ordered some of its workers to stay at home until the precarious situation improved, he said.
The DPR boss said the SPDC obtained a permission from the organization to effect repairs on the pipeline, not too long ago, adding, â€œIt will take about two weeks to do it, we do not expect queues at the petrol stations for now in Delta state because a few days ago, a ship berthed with petroleum products and I expect that it will be better this week. I am satisfied with what they are doingâ€.