04 November 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Niger Delta Avengers, a notorious group of militants that blew up oil and gas installations in Niger Delta region last year, has announced an immediate end to its ceasefire with the Nigerian government.
In a statement posted on its website Friday afternoon, the group said it would resume hostilities any day from now, saying the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has not been sincere with its peace talks and promises for the Niger Delta.
The group also condemned a former top militant in the region, Government Ekpemupolo, a.k.a. Tompolo, saying he had failed to live up to his leadership roles for those who seek absolute “emancipation” for the region.
The statement was signed by the group’s spokesperson, Mudoch Agbinibo, who also announced a string of successful attacks on oil and gas facilities that sent major international oil firms like Shell and Chevron deferring activities last year.
The group also named the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, as one of Nigerian government’s loyalists sabotaging its cause.
The militants have not carried out any major attack since the beginning of this year.
Earlier this year, the group has expressed its frustration with what it termed President Buhari’s “deaf” approach towards the ongoing dialogue with leaders of the region.
“It has been evidently clear that the Nigerian state is not ready for any form of dialogue and negotiation,” the Avengers said while accusing the Buhari administration of turning “deaf ears” to the plight of the Niger Delta.
Consequently, the Avengers said it had activated its combatants and bases for a wholesale obstruction of Nigeria’s oil production.
“On this note, we are declaring ‘Operations Walls of Jericho and Hurricane Joshua’ simultaneously to reclaim our motherland,” Mr. Agbinibo said. “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 had said it would ensure that Nigeria’s 2017 national budget is not funded with the “crude oil production output from the Niger Delta” but “on the newly found oil deposits in the North and the new pipelines construction from the Niger Republic,” in reference to Mr. Buhari’s policies of prospecting crude oil in the North East and constructing cross-border pipelines with the Republic of Niger.
The Niger Delta Avengers gained worldwide notoriety when its fighters launched a string of devastating attacks on oil and gas installations across the oil-rich region last year, forcing major oil companies — including Shell, Agip and Chevron— to cease operations and withdraw their staff.
Between mid-January and mid-November 2016, the Avengers claimed responsibility for some 50 attacks on oil installations, hitting mostly in Delta State with Bayelsa coming in a distant second.
The group said it would bring Nigeria’s oil production to “zero” in its quest to end widespread poverty and environmental degradation across the Niger Delta.
The hostilities also compelled Shell to shut down its export terminal in Forcados, Delta State, significantly decreasing government’s major source of revenue while depriving the economy of much-needed foreign exchange. The government said the group’s activities contributed to the country’s economic woes.
In the third quarter of 2016, Mr. Buhari ordered a military offensive as his administration’s response to the sabotage by the NDA and other similar groups that had emerged in different communities across the region.
The government also adopted a peace talk with leaders of the region as an alternative means of ending the crisis, but did not cancel the military operations.
The dialogue, which was formally launched in November 2016, was rumoured as the reason behind Avengers’ minimal attacks on pipelines since September.
But little progress has been made despite repeated promises by the parties involved that the talks would lead to a lasting peace and economic development of the region.