Militants attack another flow station

Militants suspected to be Ijaw, have continued their attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta by vandalising a flow station and a gas flow line in Warri South-West and Burutu Local Government Areas of Delta State.

The Shell Petroleum Development Company, which only on Friday was asked by a Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, to pay $1.5billion to the Ijaw in Bayelsa State as compensation for environmental damages, operates the flow station, Odidi II, in Warri South-West.

The gas flow line located at Beniboye, near Forcados, in Burutu LGA, was operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited.

Although our correspondents learnt that the attack on the Odidi II flow station was on Saturday, a senior SPDC official claimed that it happened on Wednesday night.

The official, who added that the militants damaged the manifold of the flow station, said that the SPDC had evacuated its staff from the area before the incident.

�Apart from the damage to the facility, there was no fresh impact to the facility which records a production loss of 455,000 barrels per day,� he said.

The SPDC management is said to have informed the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, code-named, �Operation Restore Hope�, about the attack.

Findings by our correspondents on Sunday revealed that the JTF troops, upon receipt of the report, stormed some riverside Ijaw communities, in search of major component parts of the flow station allegedly stolen by the militants.

Our correspondents gathered that the militants, who had on Friday warned that they would no longer give prior-attack warnings, might have placed fresh hurdles on the early release of the nine foreign oil workers in their custody.

A member of the Delta State Committee on the release of the hostages said on Sunday, that the militants demanded a written undertaking from the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Alexander Ogommudia, that their communities would no longer be attacked by the military.

The committee member added that the kidnappers wanted the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell, and the British High Commissioner, Mr. Richard Gozney, to be involved in the negotiation to free the hostages.

�The ambassadors are to serve as witnesses to whatever agreement that is reached between the Federal Government and the Ijaw people.

�The militants claimed that only on Saturday, three speed boats loaded with soldiers stormed some communities and harassed innocent people even after President Olusegun Obasanjo reportedly ordered the JTF to stop further attacks.�

But the JTF Commander, Brig.-Gen.Elias Zamani, who confirmed the attack on the Odidi II flow station, gave two conditions to forestall further offensive in the riverside communities, especially Gbaramatu Kingdom, where the nine hostages are believed to be held.

The conditions are an end to oil bunkering and cessation of attacks by militants on his men.

Zamani also described as �mere propaganda,� the claim by the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality that the JTF troops killed some villagers and destroyed communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom.

He said, �We never bombed any village. We only destroyed items of illegal bunkering. They should provide evidence that we killed their people (Ijaw) and destroyed their communities by releasing the photographs to the press.

�We (JTF) cannot be watching while the militants continue to kill our soldiers and steal crude oil. We are not going to attack them in as much as they comply with the two conditions.�

Meanwhile, the SPDC has announced its decision to appeal the ruling that it should pay $1.5billion to the Ijaw Aborigines of Bayelsa State.

The oil firm, in a statement on Friday, said it appealed the judgment because there was no evidence to support the claims by the group.

The statement added that the company�s management remained committed to dialogue with all its stakeholders.

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