•Blows up NNPC crude, gas trunk lines in Delta
•Elevates fighters to the rank of Brigadier-general
•Ijaw youths give condition for dialogue
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Egufe Yafugborhi, Perez Brisibe &Akpokona Omafuaire
AFTER blowing up additional gas and crude oil trunk lines belonging to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in Delta State, in a twin attack, Thursday night, the Niger Delta Avengers yesterday issued a notice to the Nigerian Military, International and Indigenous Oil Companies, IOCs, to watch out for “something big.”
The fear was that the operation of the daring militant group was about to become bloody and enter the phase of abduction, which it warned about earlier.
The double attack at 11.45 pm, Thursday, around Batan community in Warri South-West Local Government had sunk the nation into deeper economic quagmire.
The latest attack came less than 24 hours after two Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) facilities were hit reportedly grounding its swamp operations in Delta.
Apparently amused at the depression its activities were causing the nation, the leadership of the group, in a statement by its spokesperson, Col Mudoch Agbinibo, yesterday, announced the promotion of the fighters, who carried out the devastating attacks to the rank of Brigadier-General.
“To the IOCs, indigenous oil companies and Nigerian Military, watch out, something big is about to happen and it will shock the whole world,” the group tweeted before announcing that “the high command has rewarded some brave and courageous soldiers of Avengers and promoted them to the rank of Brig.General.”
The Avengers at 8.00 am, Friday, tweeted that it attacked an NNPC Gas and Crude trunk line close to Warri, Delta State at about 11:45pm on Thursday.
The tweet read: “At 11:45PM on Thursday, @NDAvengers blew up another NNPC Gas and Crude trunk line, close to Warri, a pipeline that was heavily guarded by the military.”
Moments later, it dismissed the stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja on Wednesday between government officials and supposed militants as an affront to the people of the region.
The tweet read: “The Niger Delta stakeholders meeting is an insult to the people of the Niger Delta. What we need is a sovereign state not pipeline contracts.”
Earlier in the month after the group bombed Chevron’s Valve Platform, it said: “This is just the beginning and you have not seen anything yet. We will make you suffer as you have made the people of Niger Delta suffered over the years from environmental degradation, and environment pollution.”
Avengers’ spokesperson, Col Mudoch hinted that the commander of its strike team 9 is from Eastern Nigeria, while the commander of strike team 6 that blew up the platform is an Itsekiri and the commander of the elite team one from Akwa Ibom State.
The group had also warned owners and operators of oil blocs in the region to shut down their operations and evacuate their staff latest May 26, saying “if at the end of the ultimatum, you are still operating, we will blow up all the locations. It will be bloody. So just shut down your operations and leave.”
As at the time of this report, attempts to speak with the NNPC spokesperson, Garuba Mohammad was fruitless, while security sources in the area were yet to confirm the alleged attack.
However, security sources confirmed a twin attack by the group on Wednesday night.
An official of the Ijaw Youth Council corroborated claims by the militants that they attacked pipelines operated by the NNPC around Batan community in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
The Pipelines, Product Marketing Company and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited, both subsidiaries of NNPC operate the damaged pipelines.
According to a security source, both crude and gas trunk lines were severely affected in the attacks.
Locals in the affected community said they heard series of explosions and people thrown into panic, as they did not know what was happening.
Speaking on the incident, IYC spokesperson, Mr, Eric Omare, described the explosion as a recurring incident that is getting out of control. He asserted: “It was at the back of Batan, Warri South-West. I think the facility should belong to NNPC”.
A rights activist and community leader, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, who is from the area, told Saturday Vanguard: “We have not been able to ascertain the exact point. An account says it was around Bennet Island, another says it was Batan, we need to be very concrete with our information.