The Niger Delta Avengers, a new militant group in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, has threatened to make the country's economy worse by acts of sabotage, particularly in the oil sector. The threat, made via a statement issued by the group, is a response to comments made by President Muhammadu Buhari during his visit to China.
While in China, Buhari had said that oil saboteurs will be treated harshly like Boko Haram terrorists, a comment the group considers a denigration of the Niger Delta struggle and an indication that the Federal Government considers oil more important than the lives of people of the Niger Delta region.
"The recent proclamation of the Federal Government to bombard the people of the Niger Delta, as stated in Beijing, China, is a clear indicator that President Buhari and his Northern brothers-led government scales the oil in the Niger Delta far more important than the lives of the Niger Deltans," the group said.
As proof of the Niger Delta Avengers potency, the group cited the visit of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State to the Forcados Terminal, where they inspected the SPDC 48 inches export pipeline, which it claimed to have blown up. "They never cared to see for themselves what the natives (Ogulagha people), the host community, are going through in the hands of SPDC as a result of the oil and gas exploration for decades. Ogulagha community is just one such case across the Niger Delta," the statement added.
The militant organisation explained that the decision of the government to send the Minister of the Environment and the Vice President on a visit to the Forcados Terminal after it was blown up shows the importance of the facility to the economic well-being of the country.
"Bonny Export Terminal, Bonny Island in Rivers State, Chevron and Ugborodo community in Delta State are the heartbeat of Nigeria's economy, but they are all facing same hardship as the Ogulagha community, which hosts the Forcados Terminal.
"It is a slight on our struggle and quite embarrassing for Mr. President to liken us to his kinsmen (Boko Haram), who are hell-bent on swimming in innocent blood until they Islamize the nation," added the Niger Delta Avengers.
The organisation also accused the President of deliberately ignoring the menacing activities of Fulani herdsmen, but paying attention to pipeline vandalism, which he wants to use as a pretext to punish the Niger Delta Region. This, it argued, provides further proof that the Federal Government values oil more than the well-being of the people of the Niger Delta. While claiming it takes no pleasure in violence, the group, however, said it will continue blowing up pipelines to protest the marginalisation of the Niger Delta.
It dared the Presidency to do its worst, saying: "The Presidency can go ahead and setup a permanent security force, as stated by the Vice President when he visited the SPDC, Forcados Terminal. We are not deterred by such threats as we are highly spirited and shall continue blowing up pipelines until the Niger Delta people are no longer marginalized by the Nigerian actors. Yes, the military have sworn to lay down their lives to protect Nigeria. We have on our part sworn to do whatever is necessary to safeguard the interest of the Niger Delta people."
The group also invited the attention of the Federal Government and the international community to the plight of the Niger Delta people and alleged that other forms of pipeline vandalism are encouraged and by officials of the Nigerian armed forces.
"We want the general public to note that the Nigerian Armed Forces collects three Naira per litre of the sum accruing from the total number of barrels loaded by any vessel in all illegal bunkering activities referred to as 'black oil business,' it claimed.
It followed this up with a piece of advice to the Chinese government and the international community that any country that lends Nigeria money is doing so at its own risk. "There will be no litre of crude oil to service the loan deal they planning to do. This also goes to the international oil companies in the country to adhere to our warnings and advise the Federal Government to heed our demands, especially the development of the Niger Delta Region," the group concluded.