Militants return to the creeks following failure of FG to hold agreed dialogue
Niger Delta Avengers, the militant group that had claimed responsibility for many sabotage attacks in Niger Delta last year, said that it has asked its fighters to prepare to fight the “enemy” as it claimed Nigerian authorities were not ready for dialogue.
The Avengers declared a ceasefire last year after staging major attacks on oil facilities crippling Nigeria’s oil output.
The attacks cut Nigeria’s oil production, which stood at 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) at the start of 2016, by more than a third in June 2016, although the oil minister said in December pipeline repairs lifted output to nearly 1.8 million bpd.
“It has been evidently clear that the Nigerian state is not ready for any form of dialogue and negotiation,” the Niger Delta Avengers said in a statement posted on their website.
“All fighters and commands are hereby placed on high readiness in your webs of operations to hit and knock the enemy very hard,” the group said.
It declared the start of an “Operations Walls of Jericho and Hurricane Joshua … to reclaim our motherland” but did not say whether this meant an end of the ceasefire or gave any details
In the past six months, government has held talks with Niger Delta leaders to address grievances of poverty and oil pollution. In his New Year speech, President Muhammadu Buhari also spoke about government’s readiness to forge peace in the region.
But the militants have complained that no progress has been made.
The Avengers, like other militant groups, has split into different factions, which struggle to control their fighters, unemployed young men who work for anybody who pays them.
Another former militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which had agreed to lay down arms in 2009, had said a week ago it had lost trust in the government to bring peace to the region.
Those behind the pipeline attacks, which began in early 2016, say they want a greater share of Nigeria’s energy wealth to go to the southern region.
The frequency of attacks has diminished since President Muhammadu Buhari held talks with community leaders but there are sporadic attacks, most recently in late November.