President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the military to suspend operations in the Niger Delta for two weeks to create a window for dialogue with militants. Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed this in Abuja, yesterday. According to him, the Federal Government is determined to explore the dialogue option, with a view to restoring genuine peace in the region, where oil production has been significantly hurt by activities of the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, in the last two months.MILITANTS

He said: “The President is interested in dialogue and has mandated the military to halt actions for about two weeks to ensure a team that will be led by the NSA, dialogues with the militants to ensure peace in the region. This is coming as more oil companies in the Niger Delta have reviewed their operations, following continued bombing of their facilities in Delta and Bayelsa states. Avenue open to militants, says Kachikwu ‘’The avenue is open for them, provided the militants are willing to embrace dialogue and allow truth to reign because we are going to involve key leaders from the region who have had previous experience in that area to play whatever role they can”.

Speaking at the handover ceremony of Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas to the Federal Ministry of Education, Kachikwu stated that the Federal Government was not just committed to securing oil and gas installations but the lives and property of people in the region. According to Kachikwu, the Monguno team will consist of top officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, service chiefs and ministers from the Niger Delta. The NNPC boss said the nation needed peace in oil production now than ever, given the circumstances currently facing the economy. However, Kachikwu expressed hope that the dialogue would yield positive results and get Nigeria back to maximum production as the country was currently producing about 1.6mbpd, about 600,000 barrels, short of the 2.2mbpd production target of the 2016 budget.

Investigations by Vanguard revealed that some of the oil companies have developed jitters over the latest impudence by militants operating in the creeks of the region. Agency reports indicated that Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, shut down operation after an attack, last Friday, by militants on its pipeline in Bayelsa State, forcing it to cut production by 65,000 barrels per day. Spokesperson for Aiteo, Mr Shola Omole, operator of the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, which came under attack by Niger Delta Avengers, May 28, also said production on the line that conveyed crude to Bonny export terminal had been shut.

He added that the company was compelled to shut daily production of 75,000 due to the attacks. It was also learned that Chevron Nigeria Limited and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, have started reappraising their operations in the region, particularly with the constant bombings of their facilities by Niger Delta Avengers and other nascent militant groups. A source, who pleaded anonymity, said the company had shut down most of its facilities in Bayelsa State due to militants’ threats and bombings. Similarly, Shell said it was forced to declare a force majeure on its Bonny light crude blend because the militants attacked its Nembe Trunk Line which it relied on to evacuate crude from its oil fields in Bayelsa State. Vanguard also gathered that Eni, the parent company of NAOC’s production had been interrupted by 65,000 barrels per day, following attacks on its pipeline in Bayelsa State. A source close to the company, said: “The total deferred production due to the attack is 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily.”   FG in talks with N-Delta stakeholders —Osinbajo However, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, revealed that the Federal Government has commenced talks with the leaders and people of the Niger Delta to halt the spate of attacks on oil installations in the area. Besides reaching out to the people, the Vice President said the government was beefing up security in the region, describing the blowing up of pipelines as economic sabotage. Speaking during a meeting with a delegation of the European Union, led by the EU Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr. Michel Arrion, Osinbajo called on the Niger Delta leaders to live up to expectations befitting their status. “We are talking, we are ensuring that we minimize losses and we are stepping up security. We are also engaging the international oil companies, IOCs, to see what options exist,” he said. The Vice President reechoed that the focus of the Buhari Presidency “is to ensure that the man on the street in the Niger Delta receives the benefit from all that is available there.” Tompolo flees as militants vow to test missiles Meanwhile, there were palpable fears, yesterday, as the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, JNDLF, restated its plan to test missiles in a three-day operation in the Niger Delta, amid report that ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, has fled to Libya.

The group, which issued alert last week that it would commence the operation today, in a statement by its Commander, General Duties, General Akotebe Darikoro, and three others, said:   “In our final meeting, it was resolved that the Nigerian communication satellite orbit should be shut down so that it will avoid the cause of electronic radiation to human lives. “We shall fire these missiles simultaneously at the night, as this will enable every Nigerian to see the movement of the missiles and equally to believe us of our seriousness on the final breakup as predicted by the United States of America (USA).” The group’s resolution to go ahead with the operation is in clear conflict with the stand of the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, which disowned the new groups, claiming to have anti-aircraft missiles and warned them, last Saturday, to desist from targeting any aircraft or it would go after them. Militants vow to bomb Aso Rock, other targets

However, the JNDLF, remained unperturbed, last night, as it warned occupants of the State House, Abuja, Defence Headquarters, DSS Headquarters, National Assembly, NNPC Towers, Central Bank of Nigeria, Supreme Court/Appeal Court, Agip Heaquarters, Abuja and Shell Headquarters, Lagos, to vacate them to save their lives. Other targets listed by the group include Chevron Headquarters, Lagos; Exxon Mobil, Lagos; NLNG, Lagos and Abuja offices, Kaduna Refinery and all military formations in Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna and Benue states. On militant leader, Tompolo, the group asserted: “At present, Tompolo is in Libya and we’ll get him dead or alive for betraying us in supporting the Federal Government against us. “Nigerian military has weak intelligence gathering mechanism, hence they could not identify our modus operandi. Nigerian military is only good in carrying AK-47 to harass innocent people and raping young girls and women.

” Before now, the Niger Delta Avengers was the group that had issued warnings to Tompolo for allegedly disowning it and its bombings, now the JNDLF is against Tompolo. However, while both agreed on dealing with Tompolo, they disagreed on deployment of missiles. Avengers had threatened to go after any group that deployed missiles, kidnap and abduct soldiers in the region. A  source close  to Tompolo laughed when contacted by Vanguard, yesterday, saying: “I do not know what you want me to say, they should leave Tompolo alone.” JNDLF, however, maintained: “The fight is not for any human blood, but to destroy all those infrastructure that were built with our oil and gas monies in this country. “We will make Federal Government and oil companies to suffer as they have made the people of Niger Delta suffer over the years from degradation and environmental pollution. JNDLF warns diplomatic community “We equally advise the diplomatic community to be neutral on this issue as wrong comments against us will be seen as sabotage. Where they are staying currently will not be affected which is not part of our targeted areas of destruction in the country. “We shall embarrass the Nigerian Air Force with their recent deployment of fighter aircraft, helicopter gunship and surveillance aircraft when at this digital age, countries are talking about missile development, and they still condescend so low with their present obsolete equipment. This is sad indeed. “Note, we are going to destroy the ones they have deployed to Escravos, Forcados in Delta State; Bonga oil field, Agbami offshore and Brass in Bayelsa; Bonny in Rivers; Qua Iboe Terminal in Akwa Ibom State, and Opuekeba in Ondo State if they fail to remove them before time. Our crack team has taken inventory of their equipment.

“Even the present suffering from a rare ear disease known as Meniere’s disease by President Muhammadu Buhari will not win any sympathy to save our action against the Federal Government.   Military fully involved in illegal bunkering “The name, Nigeria as a country, will come to an end this week. The so-called operatives of the military operations, code named ‘Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta were our partners in the oil bunkering activities, because at present, without being told, the former JTF Commander, Major-General Emmanuel Atewe, was arrested by the EFCC last week over pipelines surveillance contract of N8.2 billion in the region.” It said his arrest “is an eye opener to the Federal Government that the military are fully involved in illegal bunkering in the area. “The Pharaoh of Nigeria (Buhari) should take the counsel of sycophants and jesters around him, especially Mr. Ayiri Emami and Professor Itse Sagay, who are currently in our searchlight. “The founder of the Niger Delta Ex-Agitators, Israel Akpodoro, is a dead man and he should not hide for linking former President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Seriake Dickson with the Avengers.” JNDLF noted that Shell Petroleum Development Company and Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, had continued to spend billions of naira to repair damaged oil and gas pipelines, instead of paying victims of the 2011 Bonga oil spill and Koluama gas explosion in Bayelsa State. “Since they don’t want to hear, we’ll continue to break the pipelines until they do the needful for our old parents at home because that is the only language the companies and Federal Government understand in the country.”

Meanwhile, soldiers of the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta, went back to Oporoza community, traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, yesterday morning, less than 72 hours after they ended a six-day siege to the riverside town. A source, who spoke to Vanguard at  6.40 a.m., said: “The soldiers are scattered all over the community, they are moving from place to place, we do not know what they came to do again. “Most of the young people fled into the bush again, but some women and elderly ones, who could not run, waited behind to know what they came for this time around. I am seeing about 50 soldiers, though I am not sure of the exact number.” A security source, who wondered why there was fuss over soldiers performing their lawful duty, asserted: “There is nothing wrong in soldiers going back to Oporoza if they got more intelligence information on the perpetrators and their modus operandi.” Vanguard learned that soldiers might have searched the Oporoza Guesthouse, which they ransacked earlier and other strategic places. Former militant leader, Government Ekpumupolo, alias Tompolo, who some persons fingered in the ongoing attacks by Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, despite his strong denials, had his space in the lodge turned upside down in the previous visit. Ijaw leader, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, confirmed to Vanguard that soldiers stormed Oporoza earlier yesterday, at about 7.57 am. Another leader in the area, Piniki Azaiye, said: ”They just left without harassing anybody.” Military never  really left Oporoza However, a military source told Vanguard that contrary to reports that the military departed Oporoza only to return yesterday morning, soldiers were still very much around at Oporoza. According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, “the military never really left Oporoza as reported, what actually happened was that we just only had a routine change of soldiers embarking on surveillance operation at Oporoza. “The withdrawal was also facilitated to enable the soldiers to be paid and it has nothing to do with pressure on the army authorities to withdraw its men from the community.” Again, students, teachers scurry into the bush However, despite the people’s complain about the return of the military to Oporoza, former chairman of Oporoza, Amami Ebimene, told Vanguard on phone: “As I speak with you, they have taken over the town and everyone, who had returned before, has fled into the bush again. “What pained me most is the students, who were to start examination today (yesterday). They scampered along with their teachers into the bush. The teachers, who we managed to convince to come back, have vowed not to return. ”The military should take their search for Avengers to some other places; we are fed up with this harassment. The elderly people are in shock and there is no means of rescuing them. “The Federal Government and its military are pushing us to anger and they know that there will be a limit to what we can bear.” Secretary of Okerenkoko Federated Community, Ernest Bebenimibo, blamed the silence of the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, for the woes of the people. He said: “The state government should act fast because our students’ future has been thrown into jeopardy due to military occupation. “The plight of our students, who are currently writing examination is terrible, we have been displaced and the children cannot write their examinations. “For the government to watch us suffering and children not being able to write examinations after voting for them, is terrible. We are angry, we are not Avengers, and we are not militants, so the military should leave us alone.” Ijaw denting N-Delta image — Itsekiri group An Itsekiri group, Iwere New Era Watch, INEW, however, frowned at the frequent resort to militancy by Ijaw ethnic nationality, saying the ethnic group was smearing the image of other nationalities in the region. Leaders of the group, Jubemi Mofeosan and Joshua Edemakporo, said in a statement: “The Niger Delta has returned to international headlines as the hotbed of violence, less than one year that power has changed hands in Abuja.

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