ABUJA — Apparently moved by the threats of Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, JNDLF, to bomb major government buildings in Abuja starting midnight today, the Federal Government, yesterday, called for an emergency security meeting.
The meeting, which appeared to be a strategic one, had in attendance the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; governors of oil producing states; service chiefs; Minister of Defence, Dan Ali; Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty Programme, Gen. Paul Boroh, among others.
The meeting came on a day the main co-ordinator of attacks on Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, oil and gas installations in Delta State was paraded by the Navy.
Governors in attendance at the meeting included Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Adams Oshiomhole (Edo); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo); Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).
Service chiefs at the meeting were Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, and Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas.
Held at the conference room of the Acting President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the meeting which started at about 10a.m. ended at about 3p.m.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State said they took briefings of the situation in the Niger Delta by the security chiefs and Minister of State for Petroleum.
He said the meeting particularly noted the unhealthy developments in Delta and Bayelsa states, saying a solution was underway.
The governor, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, also revealed that there would be a stand-down of military action in the zone.
He said the outcome of the meeting, which extensively sought collaboration with the states, would be implemented immediately.
His words: “We, governors of oil producing states, security chiefs and ministers who are concerned, met with the Vice-President and I believe we had a very fruitful meeting.
“One thing we identified, which is the synergy between the Federal Government and the states, which is very important, is that this meeting has raised a lot of issues and we believe that the collaboration will help us to tackle the issues in the Niger Delta.
“Of course, we were briefed by the service chiefs and the governors also have their own perspectives along with the Minister of State for Petroleum.
“We have taken a lot of decisions which will help us mitigate what is going on currently in the states, particularly Bayelsa and Delta. We believe we are going to find a solution to it.
Need to share intelligence
“One of such is that there is a need for us to share intelligence which is very important and for us to be proactive, working together with the various stakeholders in the states to achieve a better result going forward.
“We have also agreed that there is a need to distill military operations by helping communities where the military needs to actually remain on our waterways to ensure that we adequately man the waterways, while we engage the communities and that engagement will start any moment from now.
“Right from today, there is a meeting right after this and we are going to be collaborating, even as we return to our various states.”
On amnesty programme
Asked when the amnesty programme would be revisited, the governor said it was still ongoing.
He said: “I don’t think the amnesty has been put to a stop. I think the process is still ongoing, we have a Special Adviser in charge of amnesty and he is doing very well.
“I am aware that he did come in to talk with some of the communities and along with the advocacy team that was put up in Delta State. He did brief us today and I believe it is going to be maintained,” he said.
In a similar vein, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, also corroborated the stance of the Delta State governor on the issue.
Nigeria not at war
He said: “We agreed that we all have to work together to refocus on development issues, economic issues, military issues and community issues. Whatever he has told you there, that is what we have agreed to do.
“This is a government elected by the people to govern for their own good. You can’t govern that person without talking to that person. It is common sense. That does not mean humiliation.
“You must engage your people. Nigeria is not at war and we cannot be at war with ourselves. If we have conflicts, we will talk through those conflicts.”
Navy parades bombing kingpin, others
Meanwhile, the main coordinator of attacks on the NNPC, and Chevron oil and gas installations in Delta State was paraded in Warri, yesterday, by the Navy.
His arrest came barely 24 hours after the Federal Government extended the olive branch to militants in the Niger Delta, who had been blowing up oil and gas pipelines in the region through a two-week ceasefire to create room for dialogue.
Parading the suspected coordinator of attacks on NNPC and Chevron facilities at the Naval base in Warri, yesterday, Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Delta, Commodore Ramie Mohammed, said he was arrested in connection with the attack on SPDC 48-inch export pipeline onshore Forcados.
The commander, who did not want to be drawn into comments on whether the suspect was a member of Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, or not, said what was of interest to him was that the suspect carried out the attacks.
He said: “The Nigerian Navy, in collaboration with other security agencies, has arrested the main coordinator of attacks on NNPC and Chevron oil and gas facilities we have witnessed since May 4 with the attack on Okan Valve Platform offshore Escravos. This arrest came after several weeks of trailing and arrest of several of his foot soldiers.
“This suspect is also deeply involved in pipeline vandalism to steal crude oil. He steals crude from about 35 abandoned oil well heads and pipelines in Okpoko and Obodo, Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State. Navy believes with his arrest, attacks on Chevron/NNPC oil and gas facilities will abate.”
Also paraded by the NNS Delta was a suspect arrested on May 29 for the alleged role he played in a gang’s killing of a soldier, police officer and one other victim.
Both the suspected killer of security operatives and the alleged mastermind of the NNPC and Chevron oil and assets attacks were hooded.
Commodore Mohammed said the identity of the suspects were shielded so as not to compromise ongoing investigations that would lead to arrest of his collaborators.
When interrogated, the suspected killer of a policeman and soldier, arrested in Sapele, told Vanguard that his friend, identified as “Oyile” was the mastermind.
However, the suspect arrested for co-ordinating blow-up of pipelines, told reporters he and his fronts bought stolen crude from one William, who allegedly siphoned products from abandoned wells in the Delta waterways.
JNDLF yet to fire missiles
Meanwhile, the JNDLF, which caused panic in the Niger Delta in the last few days, with its warning to test six missiles, did not launch any as at 5.00 pm, yesterday.
Findings by Vanguard showed that there was calm in the region and as at 5.00 p.m in Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers states, there was no information on the launch of any missile.
Residents went about their normal duties, seemingly unperturbed by the threat, while airlines conducted their normal businesses, despite the threat by the militant group that any aircraft found in the airspace was flying at great risk.
The JNDLF in a statement by its Commander, General Duties, General Akotebe Darikoro, and three others, had on Monday warned that the group in its final meeting resolved that the Nigerian communication satellite orbit would be shut down to avoid the cause of electronic radiation to human lives.
Don’t politicize crisis, stakeholders warn
However, stakeholders in the Niger Delta have cautioned the Federal Government not to politicize but engage proper participants for the planned dialogue with militants in order not to jeopardize the brave intention.
Notable leaders and groups, who spoke to Vanguard, however, applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for ordering a two-week ceasefire on military operations in the region.
They spoke just as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, warned that extant principles of international and/or municipal law during conflict do not shield communities in the Niger Delta harbouring criminals such as members of Niger Delta Avengers, NDA.
Involve leaders of other tribes —Emami
Former chairman of Delta State Waterways and Security Committee, DWSC, Warri, and Itsekiri leader, Chief Ayiri Emami, who initially opposed dialogue with militants, who he tagged criminals, said: “Surely, everyone will support the Federal Government’s two-week ceasefire and every other measure that will bring peace as well as development to the Niger Delta.
“But it is important to stress that as at this moment, the identity of the so-called Niger Delta Avengers and its allied militant group is yet unknown. The Federal Government cannot dialogue with faceless persons, except if those giving Federal Government conditions for dialogue will publicly tell Nigerians that they are speaking for the militants.
Engage true stakeholders— IYC
Reacting to the two-week ceasefire, Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, urged the Federal Government to engage the right stakeholders in its plan to dialogue with Niger Delta militants.
IYC spokesperson, Mr. Eric Omare, said: “The IYC feels that the most important thing is for government to demonstrate sincerity and engage the right stakeholders without political considerations. This is the only way the two weeks period for dialogue can achieve meaningful result.”
Good initiative – Ijaw in USA
Coordinator of Ijaws in USA, Dr David Ogula, said: “We have numbers of reports, communiques and resolutions that have documented the problems of the Niger Delta, what is needed is action, driven from a high-level on a massive scale similar to a Marshal Plan.”
The group called on well-meaning Niger Delta people, home and abroad, to pledge commitment to collaborate with the government to break the cycle of violence and dysfunction, and build a stable, secure and prosperous region, which would translate into a stronger economy.
Stop shielding Avengers – MEND
MEND, which in a statement by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, confessed that many members of the Niger Delta Avengers involved in the current attacks were mostly its former commanders and fighters that accepted amnesty from the Federal Government in 2009 without clear understanding, said the bombings were unprovoked and pointless.
It stated: “However, we hereby remind our communities which harbour criminals such as members of the NDA that their communities are not protected by the extant principles of international and/or municipal law during a conflict.”
Shell suspends repairs of Forcados export pipeline
In a similar development, hope of an increase in Nigeria’s crude oil export was dashed yesterday, as Shell Nigeria said repair works on the Forcados export pipeline had been discontinued due to rising insecurity in the Niger Delta.
Chief Financial Officer of Royal Dutch Shell, Simon Henry, who spoke at the company’s Annual Capital Market Day, said the company had to withdraw repair crews last week after a second attack against the 48-inch Forcados export pipeline that linked onshore storage tanks with an offshore port.
According to him, the company cannot operate or repair the facility if its people are threatened. He added that it was no longer possible at this time to complete the repair work this June, as earlier scheduled.
Henry described the current attacks as more destructive that the ones that took place in the past, stating that there was clearly better organization and targeting in the recent attacks.
Nigeria’s oil export dips below 1.3mbpd
But Kachikwu, who addressed newsmen in Abuja, said Nigeria’s current total crude oil output was around 1.6 million, adding that after deducting the 445,000 barrels allocation meant for the refineries for local fuel consumption, the amount left for export was less than 1.3 million barrels daily.
He said: “In terms of exports, you know that usually, we tend to have a 60-40 per cent Joint Venture, JV, the 1.6 million barrels is a mixture of Production Sharing Contract, PSC, and JV production.
“The first is the 445,000 barrels which goes into our local production for the refined petroleum products that we see. If you take that out, we are probably at less than 1.3 million barrels in the export volume.”
Bend backwards to end crisis, Saraki pleads with FG
As renewed militancy in the Niger Delta cuts oil output by nearly half, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has appealed to the Federal Government to bend backwards and end the raging crisis in the region.
Although he condemned the destruction of oil facilities by the militants, Saraki said Nigeria must take urgent steps to stabilise the Niger Delta.
Saraki, who spoke to some journalists in Abuja, as part of activities marking his one year in office, said such peace effort didn’t necessarily need to be anchored on a new amnesty programme for the militants.
We are concerned about N-Delta Violence —US
Reacting to developments in the Niger Delta yesterday, US Mission to Nigeria said it was monitoring reports of attacks and other incidents in the region.
The Mission said in a statement: “We share the concerns of all Nigerians about these attacks. Furthermore, the United States remains supportive of efforts, including the promotion of dialogue, to address grievances in the Niger Delta.
”We encourage all parties to resolve their disputes through peaceful means and emphasize that human rights of all Nigerians must be protected.
“We continue to call on all Nigerians to persevere in efforts to achieve common goals: to end violence and curb the activities of criminal elements; to establish conditions and mechanisms for profound, positive, and lasting changes in the region; and to provide economic opportunity and needed services for residents of the Niger Delta.”
Fayose lauds Buhari
On his part, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for choosing to negotiate with the Niger Delta militants, especially the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, and suspending military action.
“The President must face the reality that democracy is about negotiation and concession,” Fayose said.
He, however, said there must be display of absolute sincerity from the Federal Government such that the militants would have trust in the process.
According to a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, the governor said: “The Niger Delta as at today, is still the golden goose laying the golden eggs on which all other regions are surviving and it will be suicidal for military action to be sustained against the militants.”