Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nigeria: Militants Hit Pipelines Again

Barely 72 hours after they crippled Adamakri crude flow line belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has again carried out a major attack, destroying oil pipelines in Isaka and Abonema, both in Rivers State.

Following the consistency in the attacks which have crippled operations of major oil companies, SPDC has declared a "force majure" for April and May regarding lifting of crude oil from Bonny terminals with effect from 1.00 am today.

The implication, according to SPDC spokesman, Precious Okolobo, is that they would defer 169,000 barrels per day, 30 per cent of which belonged to Shell.

While MEND said they hit pipelines in Isaka and Abonema Rivers, close to Idama flow station, Shell acknowledged that major pipelines in Soku-Buguma and Buguma-Alakiri were attacked.

"Shell Petroleum Devel-opment Company (SPDC) has confirmed attacks on two of its major pipelines, Soku- Buguma and Buguma-Alakiri, in Rivers State yesterday. We have declared force majure for April and May lifting from Bonny Terminals. This will be effective from 1.00 am tomorrow (today). We have deferred 169,000 per day. Shell's share is 30%. This is from the attack that was carried out last week," Shell said in a statement.

MEND claimed that since they have been pushed to the background, they have nothing to protect and would fight to destroy all the oil facilities in their region until their demands for "equity" were met.

MEND said in its statement: "On Monday, April 21, 2008 at 0100 and 0310 Hrs commandos from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in continuation of Operation Cyclone (the crippling of the Nigerian oil export industry) attacked two major oil pipelines in Rivers state of Nigeria located at Isaka River and Abonnema River (close to Idama flow station). The pipelines may belong to Shell and Chevron.

"Today's attack was prompted by the continuous injustice in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria where the root issues have not been addressed by the illegal and insincere government of Umaru Yar'Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

"It also dispels the false impression that peace and security have been restored in order to gain the confidence of potential investors in the oil and gas sector; to protest the continuous detention and secret trial of Henry Okah who was taken hostage during a supposed truce and who must be a key participant in any ongoing peace process to make it acceptable to us. Then finally, to show our way of saying 'welcome' to the US Naval warship, USS Swift which is transiting the Gulf of Guinea."

The militant group, which wrote to President George Bush of United States accusing him of conniving with President Obasanjo to hound and violate their human rights in the oil-producing region, told Bush that their action would have a ripple effect on the American economy since they had written an earlier letter to him without any response, adding: "The ripple effect of this attack will touch your economy and people one way or the other and hope we now have your attention".

The group expressed its readiness to combat the American naval forces that have been dispatched to the Niger Delta adding that the loss of over 4,000 American troops in Iraq would be "child's play" to what they would face in Nigeria.

The group said they were ready for talks only if former President Jimmy Carter would lead the delegation, failing which they would keep "destroying things without let" since they have "nothing to lose" especially in the face of "international conspiracy".

They said: "We have nothing to lose because he that is down need fear no fall. Our waters and farms have been polluted by oil companies with double standards. Our girls are raped by soldiers of the Nigerian army with impunity and protesting youths are assaulted and killed daily. Even journalists from your country cannot visit the region to report the truth without being arrested and embarrassed.

"If the root issues such as the control of our resources continue to be swept under the carpet, and the government's deception of the Niger Delta people continues, including holding sons of the Niger Delta hostage in Northern Nigeria, then, like Otto von Bismarck once remarked, 'the great questions of the time will be decided, not by speeches and resolutions, but by iron and blood.'"

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