Arrest militancy in the Niger Delta, Buhari directs CNS
… As Militants Blow Up Another Gas Pipeline
Amidst growing renewed militancy in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday directed the Chief of Naval Staff, (CNS) Vice Admiral Monday Ibak to reorganize and strengthen the Military Joint Task Force (MJTF) to deal decisively with the menace. Speaking at a meeting with the Global Director (Upstream) of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, Mr. Andrew Brown, Buhari, assured oil companies operating in the area that the federal government was taking all necessary actions to protect strategic assets in the region from vandals and criminals.
A statement by Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said the directive was to send a signal that the government was determined to deal effectively with the resurgence of militancy and the sabotage of oil installations.
Meanwhile, another key section of the Escravos gas trunkline was yesterday blown up by suspected militants. The Guardian gathered that the gas trunkline was blown up behind salvation city, near Ogbe-Ijoh in Warri South West council, Delta state.
The traditional ruler of Ogbe-Ijoh kingdom, His Highness, Pere Couple Oromoni, Monbene III, claimed the bombing of the pipeline did not happen in Ogbe-Ijoh but what they heard in the community was a loud distant explosion.
He said: “We heard a loud explosion far away, we are still trying to determine the location where the explosion occurred. There is no pipeline passing through Ogbe-Ijoh. Maybe it happened in one of the communities near Ogbe-Ijoh.” the monarch said.
The President told Brown that the operations of the JTF were also being enhanced with increased support and cooperation from the United States and Europe in the areas of training, intelligence, equipment and logistics. “We have to be very serious with the situation in the Niger Delta because it threatens the national economy. I assure you that everything possible will be done to protect personnel and oil assets in the region,” President Buhari said.
The President urged aggrieved persons, militants and communities in the Niger Delta to drop their confrontational stance and work with those who have been charged by the Federal Government to review the Amnesty Programme initiated by the Yar’Adua Administration for the benefit of all parties. President Buhari praised the resilience and staying power of Shell in Nigeria despite the operational challenges of the environment.
He urged the company to do its best to end gas flaring in the Niger Delta quickly and produce more gas for electricity generation to support manufacturing and job creation in the country. Brown had appealed for an urgent solution to rising crime and militancy in the Niger Delta. The Shell Executive also dispelled speculations that the company was pulling out of Nigeria. He said that contrary to such speculations, Shell was currently in discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on new joint oil and gas projects.