The leading militant group operating in the oil-rich region of southern Nigeria, the Niger Delta Avengers, on Sunday night, July 24, 2016, allegedly blew up the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, gas pipeline at Nsite Ibom Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
In a statement, the spokesperson of the militant group, Mudoch Agbinibo, confirmed the attack, challenging the NNPC to “check their pipeline if it is ‘system anomaly.’ ”
“At 11:30pm on Sunday, the NDA blow up Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), gas pipeline at Nsit-Ibom L.G.A, Akwa Ibom state. NNPC should check their pipeline if it’s “system Anomaly,” the statement said.
Asking the NNPC to check if it was system anomaly is an allusion to the exchange between the militant group and Exxon Mobil, which initially denied an attack on its export line in Akwa-Ibom state, saying that it was a “system anomaly,” only to declare force majeure days later.
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.