LAGOS (AFP) – Three Dutch nationals working for a civil society group were kidnapped in Nigeria’s oil producing region while on their way to inspect a hospital built by US oil giant Chevron, the military said Monday.
“There were from the Netherlands. Two male and one female,” military spokesman in the Niger Delta Mustapha Anka told AFP when asked about the Sunday abduction. “They went to inspect a hospital built by Chevron with an NGO. They were not guarded by anybody.”
“Three expatriates tried to access (the Ekeremor local government area) without security and were abducted,” Bayelsa state police spokesman Alex Akhigbe said of the Sunday attack.
Scores of expatriates, including oil workers, have been kidnapped in the restive Niger Delta, with many released following a ransom payment.
Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has a significant presence in the region. However reports from the police that the foreigners were travelling without a security detail suggested they were not oil workers.
Energy companies typically do not allow their staff to travel in the delta without an armed escort.
“I can confirm that we are aware that possibly three Dutch citizens were kidnapped in Nigeria,” a spokeswoman at the Dutch foreign ministry in The Hague told AFP.
“At this moment we are looking into it but up to now we don’t have confirmation from the local authorities,” she added.
Niger Delta military spokesman Mustapha Anka said he had “heard reports that three Dutch men or possibly two Dutch men and one woman were kidnapped” in Ekeremor.
His office was working to confirm the details, he added.
The attack came as Nigeria’s capital Abuja prepared to host a World Economic Forum summit, with business and world leader including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expected to attend.
The delta, home to Africa’s largest oil industry which churns out roughly two million barrels of crude per day, has seen years of unrest.
The violence eased after a 2009 amnesty deal with rebels in the region. But crime remains widespread, including massive oil theft and ransom kidnappings.
Niger Delta residents have largely not benefited from the huge revenues generated by Nigeria’s oil industry, which have been squandered through corruption, while thousands of crude-related spills have devastated the environment.