Friday, February 10, 2012

Is violence back in Niger Delta?

The Nation
8 February 2012


•Arms submitted by repentant militants to secure amnesty

The Niger Delta seems set to explode again, with a series of explosions recorded in the last few days. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which was at the heart of past violence in the region, has claimed responsibility for the renewed hostilities. Is it back to teh era of bombs and bullets? SHOLA O’NEIL writes

Indications that all might not be well in the creeks of the Niger Delta emerged on Friday, February 4, when a group of ex-militants destroyed the Brass trunk line of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Bayelsa State. The multi-factional umbrella group of warlords in the oil-rich region, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack.

Before the dust settled on the attack, a popular hotel in Osubi, near Warri, Delta State, Lawfab was rocked by a massive explosion. The incident occurred in the the morning. Barely six hours earlier, ex-militants quartered there protested what they described as shabby treatment by the Amnesty Committee, the consultant handing their rehabilitation training and the hotel management.

Although nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the Lawfab incident, MEND speaking, through its faceless spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, owned up to the NAOC attack and a previous incident at the country home of a minister. He listed a number of grievances as the reason for the actions and vowed that the group would cripple the oil industry in the next few days.

Before the attacks, the rumour was rife in riverside communities that disgruntled former MEND leaders were regrouping and recruiting disenchanted foot soldiers who were not included in the Amnesty Programme.

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