They said in a statement by their spokesperson, White Tamana, that their call was sequel to the on-going arrangement by government to grant amnesty to members of the terrorist Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
The group also called for the release of its members arrested by government for involvement in oil bunkering.
It admitted that bunkering activities of its members in recent times led to the shutdown of AGIP in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State and reduction in daily production of petroleum products.
It, however, warned: “We will continue to participate in the illicit trade until the Federal Government offers us amnesty and reparation or indemnification for our property, such as the refineries, boats, and houses being destroyed by the government.”
According to the group, ‘’We expect government to encourage and complement us for coming up with this lucrative inventory skills to help government create millions of jobs for Nigerians”.
“Besides, the operators demanded immediate release of all of their operators, who are in detention, and then, government should convey a round table discussion,” the Group disclosed.
The oil bunkerers said heavy military presence, burning of boats and refinery ports in the region would not stop them from continuing with the business.
“It has been recorded that the business also grow large in the region, as many of the powerful businessmen acquire weapons to fight security operatives to continue their sabotage, which has led to the death of many security operatives in the region,” it asserted.
Tamana explained, “Local refinery operators are the main agitators in N-Delta region, the struggle is divided into two perspectives, the militants and the oil refinery operators.”
‘’The government has only succeeded in identifying with militants, but not knowing that we are more stronger than militants, the government mistake us to be militants, we are different from militants, that is why amnesty offer to militant does not put stop to activities oil bunkering and local refinery operations.
‘’Our operation give us a sense of belonging, we don’t steal oil, oil in the Niger-Delta region is our property, how do you steal something which belong to you .
‘’It is the federal government that is stealing from us with their animalistic laws of on –shore and offshore dichotomy laws.
‘’We have decided to crumble Nigeria economy to stop them from exploiting us, if amnesty is not given to us.
‘’We are not happy that our people die of hunger and disease epidemic due to the oil exploration and exploitation, while others enjoys our oil money freely without looking back.
‘’We must take what belong to us by force, any attempt to stop our operation by force will reignite militancy in the region, such will be worse than what we are seeing today, burning of our operational camps cannot stop our operations, the more the JTF burn our camps, the more we spring up,” he said.
Human rights activist and national president of the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, Comrade Austin Ozobo, who had, some months ago, called for the legalization of the activities of crude oil bunkerers said that more than 50,000 youths have been empowered with their engagement in local refinery production.
*Emma Amaize, Vanguard.