JTF arrests ‘5 Chevron staff’ over pipeline bombing

*JTF personnel inspecting a bombed pipeline.

*JTF personnel inspecting a bombed pipeline.

16 May 2016, Lagos — The joint task force, JTF, in the Niger Delta has arrested five staff of Chevron Nigeria Limited in connection with the recent pipeline bombings in the region.

The staff identified as Kelvin Mordi, Samuel Emiko, Henry Arogboritse, Isaac Edemde, and Alfred Timede were reportedly picked up in Warri South West local government area of Delta state while on patrol of oil facilities along the Utunana flow station.

A source told TheCable that they are currently being detained at a military base in Warri north local government area.

The oil firm, which has suffered different attacks in recent times, reportedly employed the detainees as surveillance guards for its installations in the creek.

Godspower Gbenekama, spokesman of Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri south-west, condemned the arrest, demanding the immediate release of the suspects.

He said the military had been intimidating youths of the community.

“The soldiers arrested them in a speed boat, which had the inscription of Chevron. They had their identity cards on. So, there is no case of mistaken identity. Far from it,” he told reporters.

“After their arrest, the soldiers moved to different communities and started harassing our people. They invaded buildings and tortured youths just to coerce them to accept membership of militant groups.

“Their tactics will not work. We demand the immediate release of our innocent boys, and ask the military to stop this intimidation.”

However, efforts made to reach Deji Haastrup, Chevron’s spokesman, were not successful, as he did not reply to the SMS sent to his telephone.

Also, Isa Ado, spokesman of JTF, did not respond to calls, and the SMS sent to his telephone is still awaiting a response.

The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), a new militant group, has claimed responsibility for recent attacks, threatening to hit Chevron Nigeria headquarters in Lekki, Lagos if the organisation repairs pipelines that had been destroyed.

“From our investigation, Chevron Plc is about to carry out repair works at the valve platform that was blown up by us (Niger Delta Avengers). We made it clear that no repair works should be done until our demands are fully met,” the group said in a statement.

“When we blew up the Chevron Valve Platform it resulted in a total blackout in the Escravos Tank farm for more than three hours. If we can do it just know that we are capable of bringing down your tank farms if you continue with repair works on the blown valve platform.

“Be informed that if we decided to strike, it is going to be bloody. And to the contracting firm going to do the repair works, we want you to know that your facilities and staff will be our first casualties. We will not only destroy pipeline but will bring the fight to your tank farm and your headquarters in Lekki, Lagos.”

The federal government has expressed concerns over the upsurge of militancy, saying it is exploring possible avenues of bringing the situation under control.

President Muhammadu Buhari told TheCable in an interview that his administration would revisit the agreement which government had with the violent group.

“The militants are saying the agreement entered for the amnesty, including payments and training and employment were not being met,” he said.

“To the best of my knowledge, these are their grievances. So, we put this officer (Paul Boroh, coordinator of the presidential amnesty programme) who is from there to revisit the agreement, and see which part the federal government needs to fulfill.

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