By Emma Amaize, Hector Igbikiowubo, Samuel Oyadongha & Jimitota Onoyume
LAGOS â€” WHAT is left of Shell Petroleum Development Companyâ€™s (SPDC) joint venture onshore operations in the eastern Niger Delta, yesterday, came under heavy attack from the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), leaving the companyâ€™s pipelines connecting Adamakiri, Kula flow-stations, as well as a jacket on the offshore Afremo oil fields, which is 14 nautical miles from the Forcados Export Terminal in flames.
In a statement yesterday, the militant group also revealed the identities of militants purportedly killed extra-judicially allegedly by soldiers and urged the authorities to investigate the incident.
Meantime, the Federal Government has deployed more troops and equipment in the troubled creeks of the delta following the upsurge in the sabotage of the nationâ€™s economic interest by the militants.
In another statement, MEND claimed a fresh attack was carried out on another Shell facility.
â€œHurricane Piper Alpha lashed out at the Shell Offshore Ofirma oilfields today (yesterday), Sunday, June 21, 2009 at about 0400 Hrs blowing upÂ jacket A in the process.
The structure is currently engulfed in fire,â€ the statement disclosed.
A statement from Precious Okolobo, a spokesman of SPDC confirmed there had been three attacks on the companyâ€™s installations in the eastern area operations adding that â€œimpact to facilities, environment and production is being investigatedâ€™.
He declined further entreaties to disclose details, noting that as soon as the company was done with ongoing investigations, more information would be made available.
At the weekend, MEND had also attacked the Nigeria Agip Oil Company-operated pipeline which delivers crude oil feedstock to the Brass export terminal in Bayelsa state.
More troops, equipment being deployed
Vanguard reliably gathered that the deployment of more troops was part of efforts to strengthen the position of the JTF so as not to concede the gain of the last one month where men of the Task Force had succeeded in dislodging two of the most dreaded camps in the troubled delta.
It was gathered that the recent militant attacks on the nationâ€™s economic interest in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers State is causing the military high brass serious concern.
For the third time within five days the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) facilities in the Niger Delta came under the attack of militants in spite of the high presence of troops in the creek.
This development, a security source told Vanguard, has not gone down well the military authorities prompting the deployment of more troops in the creeks.
Only on last Saturday, the military rolled out its newly acquired amphibious battle tanks on the streets of Yenagoa in what security sources dubbed â€œa show of force.â€
The exercise, though peaceful caused panic among residents of the city as the siren blaring battle tanks menacingly patrolled the streets of the capital city.
The fear of the people is understandable given the growing tension in the last one week in the troubled waterways where the militants and men of the Joint Task Force have been locked in series of violent clashes.
Efforts to get the comment of the JTF spokesman Col Rabe Abubakar proved abortive but a security source who pleaded anonymity explained that the movement of men and equipment is a routine exercise.
â€œIt is a routine exercise in the military to move men and equipment to and from areas of assignment and as such it is a routine practice,â€ the source.
MEND explains attack
MEND, in an online statement claiming credit for yesterdayâ€™s attacks, said:
â€œHurricane Piper Alpha unleashed its fury in Rivers state today (yesterday), Sunday, June 21, 2009, leaving in its wake two battered oil installations. At about 0230 Hrs, the hurricane pounded the Shell major pipeline located at Adamakiri before moving on to another major Shell pipeline in Kula at 0300 Hrs. Both pipelines are located in Rivers state of Nigeria.
â€œWe have been reliably informed that the Chevron Air Strip in Escravos was used by the military as a staging area for the jet fighters and helicopter gunships used in the attacks and bombing of civilian communities in Gbaramatu kingdom of Delta state.
â€œBy allowing its facilities to be used in committing atrocities against the host communities where it drills oil and gas from, Chevron has repeated the same mistake by Shell against the Ogoni communities and will pay a price in double measure.
â€œOur public appeal for information on the two men summarily executed by the JTF has paid off with an overwhelming response of leads which led our investigators to the families of the victims.
â€œThe best lead happened to come from an anonymous soldier who described himself simply as a born-again Christian from the South.
â€œThe murdered men in the You Tube video have been identified as Messrs Boma Green and Stanley Tamunobere Pepple, humble fishermen who come from Bonny Island of Rivers state.
â€œThey were arrested and shot on August 8, 2008 on suspicion of being militant informants by the JTF even when they showed their catch and fishing tools as proof of their profession.
â€œBoth men were shot on the legs to immobilize them before taken to the Bonny Jetty base of the JTF. It was there that the soldiers sought the services of a camera man to video their â€˜prized catchâ€™.
â€œAfter the shootings caught on tape, we were told Stanley did not die instantly and after appeals from some witnesses that the men are known fishermen were they then allowed to be taken away to the hospital.
â€œThey were rushed in a private car to the Teme Clinic run by Doctors without Borders in Diobu, Port Harcourt where he died few hours later from the injuries inflicted by the gunshot wounds. Medical records are available.
â€œStanley Pepple left behind a wife and three children and was buried on August 30, 2008.”
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