By Emma Amaize
WARRI – ABOUT 35 militants, belonging to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), armed with rocket launchers, heavy calibre machine guns and assault rifles attacked in the early hours of today, a major Shell/Chevron crude oil pipeline located in Abonema, Rivers state.
Spokesman of the militant group, Jomo Gbomo who confirmed the attack by the militants who carried out the operation in five boats said in online statement that it was a â€œwarning strikeâ€ and that MEND would review the indefinite ceasefire it ordered on Sunday, October 25 within thirty days from December 19.
MEND remains open to dialogue, however the indefinite ceasefire ordered by the group on Sunday, October 25, 2009 will be reviewed within thirty days from today, December 19, 2009.
His words, â€œThe Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) can confirm that a warning strike carried out by five boats involving thirty five of its fighters armed with assault rifles, rocket launchers and heavy caliber machine guns was carried out at about 0200Hrs today, December 19, 2009 on a major Shell/Chevron crude pipeline in Abonemma, Rivers state of Nigeriaâ€.
â€œThis attack was carried out for the following reasons:
â€œWhile the Nigerian government has conveniently tied the advancement of talks on the demands of this group to a sick president, it has not tied the repair of pipelines, exploitation of oil and gas as well as the deployment and re-tooling of troops in the region to the presidents ill health.
â€œWhile wishing the President a speedy recovery, a situation where the future of the Niger Delta is tied to the health and well being of one man is unacceptable.
â€œThe government through the Bayelsa state governor, ministers for defense and information has been disseminating propaganda aimed at foreign investors claiming that the situation in the Niger Delta is under control. This assertion is far from the truth.
â€œAlso the government has been offering bribes to a number of militants who surrendered their birth rights under its amnesty program in the form of contracts. The government perceives these individuals to wield some kind of influence in the region.
â€œThe group wants to make it abundantly clear that all those who have capitulated are of no significance to the continuation of the struggle.
â€œMEND is committed to continue its fight for the restoration of the land and rights of the people of the Niger Delta, which has been stolen for fifty yearsâ€, MEND stated.
The group, nevertheless, said it remained open to dialogue. The Aaron team, which it set up, led by the former Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Okhai Akhigbe (rtd) had started preliminary dialogue with President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua before he recently ill and was admitted at a hospital in Saudi Arabia.