By Jimitota Onoyume
Port Harcourt – NO one in Abonnema in Akuku Toru local government area, Rivers State or any of the oil firms could confirm the alleged attack on an oil pipeline belonging to Shell/ Chevron in Abonnema community by men of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).
The group had in an early hour online statement to the media yesterday alleged its men attacked the oil pipeline. The statement by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo reads in part: 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 0200hours today, December 19, 2009 on a major Shell/Chevron crude pipeline in Abonemma, Rivers State of Nigeria.
â€œThis attack was carried out for the following reasons.While 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€
Joint Task Force (JTF) spokeâ€™s man, Lt. Col. Timothy Antigha said the security body also had not been able to confirm the allegation. Nevertheless, he warned against attempt by any body or group to threaten the new found peace in the region.
â€œThere is no verification yet by the JTF that a pipeline has been sabotaged around Abonnema. If this unpatriotic act is confirmed to be true, at a time the federal government is doing its utmost to consolidate on the gains of the amnesty programme, then the criminals behind the act are enemies of the Niger Delta and indeed Nigeria and they donâ€™t deserve any sympathyâ€, Antigha said.
Mr. Precious Okolobo of Shell said his firm had not received any information on the alleged attack on its facility. â€œWe donâ€™t have reports of our facility being attacked and cannot comment.â€