*Military seizes 5 suspects
*Ozobo slams Oduku for fingering Gbaramatu people
14 May 2016, Warri — SECURITY agents have arrested five suspected militants in connection with the bombing of a Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL crude oil pipeline in the early hours of yesterday at Makaraba community, Gbaramatu clan, Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State. Makaraba community in Gbaramatu clan is host to a Chevron Flow Station.
It could not be confirmed if the apprehended suspects were members of Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, the militant group, which had been on the rampage in Delta state and other parts of the region, lately, but unlike previous attacks, the group did not claim responsibility for the attack.
The spokesperson of Joint Task Force, JTF, Col Isa Ado, was unavailable for comments on the recent attacks when our reporter called his cell phone.
However, a dependable security source told one of our reporters: “I cannot give you details of the suspects arrested; they were arrested by the military men, who have been on the hunt for members of the Niger Delta Avengers, which claimed responsibility for series of explosions on oil facilities in the area of late.”
How they struck
Reports from the area said the militants blew up the pipeline at two different spots. Initially, it was not clear if it was a pipeline or an oil well that was bombed as fire billowed from the location in the swampy terrain, near Abiteye, but CNL officials conducted an overflight with a helicopter, yesterday morning, to ascertain the situation.
Niger Delta Avengers had warned, Thursday, that it would attack the headquarters of CNL in Lagos and tank farm if it did not abort its planned repair works on the Valve Platform earlier destroyed by the group, May 5.
The spokesperson, Col Mudroch Agbinibo, added that the group, which had restricted itself to only pipeline attacks, might take human casualties if the company thought it was joking and defied the warning by going ahead to effect repairs on the damaged facility.
We could not confirm if CNL was carrying out any repairs at the time the militants bombed the pipeline barely 24 hours after the warning.
It was gathered that the daring attack occurred near the same Valve Platform the Niger Delta Avengers bombed earlier, not far from an outpost of soldiers guarding oil facilities in the creeks.
A security source, who spoke to one of our reporters, said: “The loud explosive bang was heard at the facility and it appears dynamites were used to carry out the attack.” He said: “It is not certain if there are causalities as a result of the incident, but investigations into the attack are still ongoing while security operatives continue their search for the perpetrators of this ugly act.”
Attempts to reach Chevron’s General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Relations, Deji Haastrup for comments on the incident was fruitless as a source said he was out of the country. An official, Mr Tunji Idowu, who spoke, however, said: “We are still assessing the situation; we do not have facts on it yet.”
Ozobo blasts Oduku
Meanwhile, national president of the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, Austin Ozobo, Friday, tongue-lashed the Commandant of the Riverine Security (Coast Guard of the Federation), Commander Bibi Oduku, who fingered Gbaramatu people, Thursday, for the pipeline attacks for his “unfounded and unguarded comments.”
He said: “I am against the violent attacks by the Niger Delta Avengers, which we have condemned as a group. We know the plight of the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom since the days of militancy until now. It is, therefore, provocative for a mischief maker like Oduku to say that the whole Gbaramatu people are involved in the pipeline attacks.”
“How can he say so, he (Oduku) is a questionable person, who has deceived so many Niger Deltans under the guise of Buhari amnesty for militants and he had been boasting about that he was going to take over the security job in the area from the ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo. So he has embarked on a smear campaign of Gbaramatu people to achieve his aim,” he said.
*Emma Amaize & Perez Brisibe – Reuters