November 8, 2016

Trans-Forcados attack was just a warning – militants

File: Militants

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Egufe Yafugborhi and Perez Brisibe

N-Delta militants at war over ‘attack claims’
*Greenland never carried out Trans-Forcados pipeline attack- Agbinibo, NDA spokesperson
*Soldiers didn’t attack Benikrukru; Kunukunuma chair released – Vanguard Investigation

WARRI- THE bad blood between two prominent militant groups in Niger Delta region degenerated on Monday with the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, accusing the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, NDGJM, of making bogus claims.

However, there was tension at Benikrukru community in Warri South –West local government, yesterday (Monday) area over alleged invasion of the area by soldiers less than 72 hours after last Saturday raid of Tebujjor, also known as Okpele Ama.militants

But, our findings showed that soldiers did not invade the community as speculated. Meanwhile, the chairman of Kunukunuma community, Chief Moses Bebenimibo, reportedly arrested during last Saturday invasion of Tebujor has since regained his freedom.

NDA/ NDGJM antagonism

It was gathered that there has been a cold war between NDA and NDGJM since the former ceased hostilities in August in deference to Niger Delta leaders, led by former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, who urged all militant groups in the region to stop bombing oil installations.

The 90-day ceasefire was to enable the leaders meet with the Federal Government, a process that was kick-started, November1, to set up a dialogue team to address the grievances of the militants.

Nevertheless, NDGJM, citing the antics of Ijaw leadership, refused to abide by the ceasefire and continued bombing oil installations in upland area of Delta state.

Stop claiming responsibility – NDA

Yesterday, NDA spokesperson, self –styled Brigadier General Mudoch Agbinibo, pointed finger at NDGJM, saying the militant group was making false claims on attacks in the Niger Delta region.

In series of tweets on its twitter handle @AgbinibiND on Monday morning, Aginibo said: “Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, NDGJM group blowing up of 3-inch and 6- inch flow lines shouldn’t give you wings.”

“NDGJM, why not try your hands on major pipelines if you can. NDGJM, stop claiming responsibilities for bombings carried out by wannabes and aggrieved youths that are not part of your group,” it said.

In an electronic mail to Vanguard, Agbinibo added: “The Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM) has been claiming responsibility lately in the region, but I want to tell you that most of the works are not done by the group.”

“You might want to ask me how I got to know about this we are insiders and we know ourselves. Most of the claims of bombing by NDGJM are done by wannabes or aggrieved community youths.

“The Trans Forcados Pipeline is one of such jobs they claiming responsibility but was not done by NDGJM,” he stated.

NDGJM warned about TFP Oct 22

Our investigation showed that NDGJM on October 22 sent an electronic mail, signed by Gen Aldo Agbalaja entitled: “Do not put on the Trans-Forcados Pipeline, TFP” to the media.

The statement read in part: “We do not have much to say to the oil companies than to just dare you to reopen the Trans- Forcados Pipeline (TFP). We are aware you are experts at testing wills, especially as you believe that you have a military shield. Please go ahead of restart the facility and see what will happen. Enough said.”

“We thought we should continue to ignore the grand error being orchestrated by those responsible for the current parlous state of our region. These people seem to have succeeded in bewitching and railroaded the federal government into settling for a dialogue with them, in the name of the Niger Delta people.

“The Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate has nothing against the people of the region reaching an agreement with the federal government, what we find offensive is the entity that is about to, as it has done in the past, steal the identity of our people to hoodwink the government.

“By the time an agreement is reached with this so-called Pan-Niger Delta Dialogue Team, Chief E.K Clark’s new conduit, the current disaffection in the region will remain because the old man has his model of doing things, which ultimately sidelines the people of the region and satisfy the greed of a few,” the militant group asserted.

Aggrieved MEND Commander blew up TFP- Jomo Gbomo

Twenty-four hours after the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, met with President Buhari, the Trans-Forcados pipeline, which commenced operation a day earlier following repairs, was bombed.

No militant group, including NDA and NDGJM, indeed claimed responsibility until the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, November 3, explained that its aggrieved Commander in Western Delta carried out the November 2 attack.

NDGJM’s claim on TFP attack
Three days after the TFP attack, NDGJM, in another electronic statement, November 5, by Gen Agbalaja, entitled: “We warned them,” said: “The destruction of the Trans-Forcados Pipeline (TFP) is just a warning to a deaf/rogue entity. We warned against the restarting of the facility, but the daring companies won’t listen. That shadow operation that brought the TFP was only meant to let these companies know that we aren’t kidding with them; when we say stay down, you stay down, and it is in your own best interest.”

Behind the resentment

It is this latest statement by NDGJM that the NDA stood on to accuse the former of making false claims on attacks in the region.

But, behind the altercation is a ‘grudge battle’ between Urhobo and Ijaw militants, which is gradually extending to Urhobo and Ijaw ethnic nationalities in the state. It was more of Ijaw and Itsekiri before now.

The NDGJM suspected to be representing the interest of Urhobo militants was unhappy that Ijaw militants and Ijaw leader Chief Edwin Clark were dictating the pace of the struggle and affairs of PANDEF respectively.

A source said: “NDGJM is discontented that the group was not properly consulted before Clark and other called for a ceasefire. The group thinks that the Ijaw militant groups were mobilized to stop bombing oil installations before they laid down their arms, while Chief Clark and his group failed to appease it and others.”

He asserted: “Chief Clark had sent emissaries to the leaders of the group to sheathe their swords, explaining that no money was released to the Niger Delta leaders and he was doing what he is doing because he did not want the region to turn to a killing field for the Nigerian military, but the boys think otherwise.”

Benikruru not invaded

Contrary to the claim that soldiers invaded Benikrukru community at about 9.00 am on Monday, our dependable source said: “The soldiers that went to Benikrukru were there on a friendly mission to check on their colleagues in the town.”

“It appeared that they came in connection with the proposed houseboat that was to be taken to Oporoza, but the houseboat in question was later taken to the entrance of Nana Creek, about five minutes drive from Benikrukru, so there was no invasion of Benikrukru as reported,” he stated self-assuredly.

The source, who insisted that it was an attack, asserted: “The soldiers held a meeting with the vigilante group in Benikrukru before they left. At the meeting, they urged the people not to panic or run into the bush, as they meant no harm after which they left.”