Nigeria may be losing about N2.79 billion daily as at Tuesday, July 12, 2016, due to the activities of the leading militant group in the oil-rich region of southern Nigeria, Niger Delta Avengers. This revelation comes as the group claims responsibility for a Monday attack on ExxonMobil’s Qua Iboe crude oil facility.
The Niger Delta Avengers claimed responsibility for an attack on the oil major’s 48 crude export pipeline in Akwa Ibom State. The statement signed by the group’s spokesperson, Brigadier General Mudoch Agbinibo rehashed an earlier warning to oil giants to stop buying crude oil from Nigeria.
“At about 7:30pm the Niger Delta Avengers blow up ExxonMobile Qua Iboe 48″ crude oil export pipeline. When will these International Oil companies (IOC) learn to listen. We, Niger Delta Avengers, said no export,” the statement published on the group’s website said.
Qua Iboe terminal is Nigeria’s largest crude oil stream and exports more than 300,000 barrels per day. At the current crude price of $47 per barrel, the country is at risk of losing billions of naira daily.
According to a ThisDay the militants blew up the terminal with explosive devices suspected to be dynamites.
“The hoodlums stormed the terminal in several boats and immediately blasted it and sped away,” a source told the newspaper. “The attack was professionally carried out and they were versed with the terrain.”
It was gathered that the security agents attached to the manifold were caught unawares as they did not expect any attack by that hour.
In a swift response, however, ExxonMobil Corporation said in the early hours of Tuesday, July 12, 2016, that no attacks had taken place at its facilities.
“There were no attacks on our facilities,” Todd Spitler, the oil corporation’s spokesperson said.
The militants replied the oil company saying that it should “stop lying”.
“ExxonMobil can deny and fool the general public about their export pipeline blown yesterday. How long can they lie to their investors? Just in a matter of days the whole world will see the truth,” Agbinibo said in a published statement. “Qua Iboe 48” crude oil export pipeline is down so said the Avengers.”
Who Are The Niger Delta Avengers?
Niger Delta Avengers is a new militancy group that is operating in the oil-rich region of Southern Nigeria. In the second quarter of 2016, the group emerged as the leading militant group mounting attacks on crude oil and gas installations in the troubled region.
The militant group say it is waging a war for a free Niger Delta Republic in what it tags, Operation Red Economy, with a view of halting crude oil production in Nigeria to force the government to grant the group’s demands.
The Avengers claims it has reduced oil production in the country to less than one million barrels a day. An analyst at VOA News corroborates the militants’ claims saying that oil production has dropped below one million barrels a day due to the waves of attacks on pipelines and oil installations.
The militant group has released its rules of engagement and says that it doesn’t kill anybody or attack oil workers or soldiers. The Delta Avengers called on all other groups operating in the region to abide by these rules of engagement. “We need God now, more than ever,” the group said in a statement.
The Niger Delta Avengers has presented an 11-point demand to President Muhammadu Buhari and the first is the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. [Download Conference report HERE.]
President Muhammadu Buhari recently rejected the Avengers’ demands saying that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. The president’s first reaction to the Avengers was to declare war against them. He later promised to “crush them” as he did Boko Haram. That position has shifted to begging them in the ‘name of Almighty God’ to stop the attacks.
Pro-Biafra secessionist group, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has pledged “total allegiance” to the Niger Delta Avengers extolling the militant group for supporting the cause of a free Biafra. MASSOB embraces the tenets of nonviolence. It is led by Ralph Uwazuruike, a lawyer.
In June, 2016 the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, another secessionist group pledged its support for the Niger Delta Avengers, saying the groups’ ideal of freedom align.