Itsekiri Order Oil Firms To Quit Niger Delta

Itsekiri youths have asked oil companies to quit the Niger Delta within 21 days as their safety is no longer guaranteed.

The warning came on Thursday, 24 hours after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) released six of the nine expatriate oil workers it abducted on February 18.

The youths met under the aegis of the Iwere Development Association (IDA) and issued a communiqu� which condemned the clandestine activities of the oil companies, their agents and the international community.

They lamented the �heinous and bizarre attacks carried out on defenceless Ijaw communities during which a lot of persons were killed�, describing the attacks as callous, wicked and criminal.

IDA President, Newuwumi Omolubi, promised that members of the group would use the last drop of their blood to resist any attempt to disregard the ultimatum.

Fear has gripped the three remaining captives.

Sources close to Okerenkoko, an Ijaw stronghold, said they are afraid that they may be killed if urgent steps are not taken to free them.

But a dependable source said the youths want to use the three captives, two from America and one from Britain, as a bait for the two powerful countries to prevail on President Olusegun Obasanjo to meet their demands.

The demands include the scrapping of the Joint Military Task Force on the Niger Delta crisis and the withdrawal of troops from the region.

Besides, the militants want to be sure that there will be no reprisal attack on Ijaw communities even as most of the areas are threatened daily by the Joint Military Task Force.

A statement signed on Thursday by Bello Oboko, Federated Niger Delta Ijaw communities (FNDIC) President, said the body wants Obasanjo to ensure that the military no longer terrorises the area under the cover of operating with oil companies.

He called for dialogue and advised that a suitable avenue be set up for Federal Government and Ijaw representatives to iron out issues of self-determination and whatever else would give the aggrieved a sense of belonging.

Bello, who declined comment on why the remaining three hostages have not been released, urged the federal authorities to send relief materials to the victims of invaded communities whose source of livelihood was ruined by troops.

His words: �We want a bill to be sponsored and law made to clarify that the invaded communities are no refuge disposal dumps for further bombardment. We also want the Federal Government to reciprocate the kind gesture towards dialogue by creating a true enabling atmosphere that has been lacking�.

The FNDIC promised to provide a negotiating team made up of Ijaw leaders, but wants a halt to the devastation of Ijawland through oil exploration and exploitation and demanded that all gas flares be checked.

The four communities of Perezuweikopegbene, Ukpogbene, Seitorubor and Sengbene bombarded by the military have been deserted as the people are afraid of further attacks.

Nigeria has approached Western governments about providing defence equipment to help protect the Niger Delta from insurgency, diplomats said.

But Western partners would like the country to do more first to reduce corruption and improve government in the deep South, where ethnic militants have stepped up attacks on oil installations and kidnappings of oil workers.

At a meeting last week in London to discuss the problems, a presentation by a top official of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) included a “shopping list” of military hardware, said the Western diplomats, who asked not to be named.

The meeting to explore anti-poverty strategies for the Niger Delta was chaired by Rivers State Governor, Peter Odili, and was attended by executives of oil companies and officials of the British and United States Governments and the World Bank.

While the foreign partners are open to development projects, they are sceptical about providing military hardware.

“There is a question over the credibility of the existing security forces in the delta,” one diplomat said.

Help keep Oyibos OnLine independent. If you value our services any contribution towards our costs will be greatly appreciated.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.