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Full scale war brew in N’Delta as militants attack more facilities

The Niger Delta region was on the verge of full scale war on Saturday after unrestrained attacks on oil facilities by armed youths believed to be loyalists of leader of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo).
It was gathered that Saturday’s attacks were carried out in fast boats fitted with General Purpose Machine-gun (GPMG) and several frigates carrying heavily armed youths.
Residents of the riverside communities said the militants paraded weapons more in numbers and sophistication than those used in previous crisis.


Oil and gas pipelines in the creeks of Gbaramatu and Ugborodo areas of Warri South West and those in Egbema, North local government areas respectively of Delta state were affected in Saturday’s attacks.
A source said, “The gas pipeline which from Olero creeks to Escravos were destroyed in the latest attack. Several crude lines were sabotaged while Makaraba, Otunana (Uton-Nana), Abiteye and Dibi flow stations were bomb.
“The pipeline, which conveys gas from Saghara to Chevron was also destroyed and there are several persons trapped in the communities.
“The kind of explosives and bombs they used are not like those of before; the effects were felt in several communities as they went off intermittently,” a local source told our reporter.
The facilities destroyed included those of the Nigerian Gas Company, Chevron NIGERIA Limited and NECONDE among others.

Our reporter learnt that the attacks could spread to Bayelsa and other states of the region within days, as the perpetrators plan to cripple crude oil production and export.
There were indications that some operations of CNL were disrupted by the latest attacks.
The company was forced to airlift its workers on Friday after militants blocked the waterways and restricted movement of transport boats, including Chevron’s Jascon transport boat.
Although the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta was said to be fully prepared to deal with the onslaughts, the militants operated unhindered for several hours on Saturday.
It was gathered that the attacks started in the wee hours of Saturday and lasted for several hours.
“The sheer force of the explosion shook several communities and there were several explosions. There is panic everywhere and the waterways have again been taken over by armed gangs.”
The Joint Media Campaign Centre Coordinator of the JTF, Col Isa Ado, was incommunicado since the onslaught began; dozens of telephone calls and SMS to his mobile line were answered.
The incident came after Saturday’s attack on a strategic gas trunk line around Warri River on Friday morning, barely10hours after a Federal High Court ordered the arrest of Tompolo in connection with an ongoing N34billion fraud case at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Although Tompolo had disowned the latest insurgence, security sources insisted that he is directly controlling the operation along with some of his close allies and his nephew who reportedly led the destruction of oil facilities in Warri North LGA on Saturday morning.
At the time of this report, it was gathered that several former militants had returned to the creeks of Warri, in what is believed to be preparation for a major onslaught on oil facilities, security operatives and communities.
Similarly, it was learnt that bunkers housing sophisticated arms and ammunition are being unearthed and deployed.
A source said, “Boats are freely moving in and out of (an Ijaw community) with guns and other weapons. Boys are coming in from all over the region and they are being given their assignments and directives.
“There is a stockpile of arms and petrol and boats are being fueled intermittently. This is not an ordinary operation, it is well planned and there seems to be several options and alternative plans,” one of the sources who fled the town, said.
Conversely, as the militants are moving into the creeks, panicky inhabitants of the riverside communities, comprising mostly women and children continued the flight for safety in upland communities like Warri, Sapele and Ogbe-Ijoh, among others.
Some of the fleeing locals were unhappy about their fates, with some lamenting that although they did not benefit from the largess from militancy they are made to face its consequences always.
“We are tired of running like this always. In 2009, it was because of the killing of soldiers, today it is because of Tompolo and EFCC. We didn’t benefit from the NiIMASA money, there were individuals who got billions, others millions but how much did we get? Nothing! Yet we are the ones who are always the victims,” a middle-aged woman lamented in smattering English.
Similarly, it was gathered that some Gbaramatu leaders have called Tompolo to caution him about the implications of engaging in a full blown war with federal forces.
It was gathered that at least 10 very high ranking traditional titleholders have distance themselves from the attacks.
“Most of our leaders are too afraid to speak out, while others cannot talk because they are benefiting one way or the other,” a youth leader told our reporter on condition that he would not be named.

The Nation




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