The leading militant group operating in the oil rich region of southern Nigeria, the Niger Delta Avengers, has reiterated its resolve to declare a free Niger Delta Republic on October 1, 2016 as announced by the group earlier in the year.
In a statement issued on the Avengers’ website on Thursday, August 18, 2016, the militants said they were praying for President Muhammadu Buhari and the Northern governors of Nigeria to find crude oil in their current frantic search for the prized resource in the North.
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“Our prayer for Buhari and the Northern hypocrites (Northern Governors) is that oil should be found in commercial quantity in the North, so they can let the Niger Delta go,” the statement titled, Our Prayer for Buhari and signed by the group’s spokesperson, Brigadier General Mudoch Agbinibo, said.
“The Buhari-led government has failed Nigerians with their misdirected policies that has divided the country, as such nobody wants to be part of that failed state not even the Niger Delta,” Agbinibo said.
The militants insisted that their resolve to declare independence from Nigeria on October 1, is going ahead as scheduled. “The October 1st, declaration of independence is still sacrosanct,” the statement said.
“If the Nigerian government fails to retrace its step by restructuring this country,” the militant group concluded, rehashing its first demand of Operation Red Economy.
The Niger Delta Avengers also warned Nigerians who are using the name of the group to defraud people that the “days of reckoning is close”.
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.