Militants have kidnapped five staff of ExxonMobil in Qua Iboe Terminal in Akwa Ibom State as well as blow a major high pressure gas pipeline at Ighwrenene Community in Delta State on April 3, in what looks like a resurgence of Niger Delta militancy
By Maureen Chigbo – /Apr. 13, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT/
IN what seems like a throwback to the ugly days of the Niger Delta militancy, unknown gunmen on Wednesday struck at the ExxonMobil Floating Storage and Offloading Vessel, FSO, at the Qua Iboe Terminal Ibeno in Akwa Ibom State and kidnapped five staff of the multi-national oil company. The militants also blew up a major high pressure gas pipeline at Ighwrenene communit in Delta State. News about the two incidents broke on Friday, April 3.
An witness, who wishes anonymity, told journalists that five indigenous personnel who were working offshore at the FSO were kidnapped by the gunmen suspected to be militants on and were taken to an unknown destination.
Following the kidnapping, troops have been drafted to the area to secure the workers. However, fear of further attacks by the militants have made the management of ExxonMobil and workers result to resuming late to work. The incident prompted the management of ExxonMobil to shut down production by 1p.m
“They are scared that the militants will attack them again. Since they kidnapped oil workers at the offshore. They are thinking that they might attack them at onshore that is why they shutdown the production,” he said, adding that security had advised ExxonMobil management to bring all the vessels together to avert further kidnapping of personnel by the militants in the area.
“Any vessel that is actively working, Mobil should now have three anchorages so that those vessels will be under security watch. Each of the anchorages will not stand close to each other so that they can have security watch in order to forestall militancy coming close to the vessel,” he said.
The gas pipeline incident happened barely four days after General Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner of the Presidential election with the militants allegedly warning him that he may have his hands full in containing the economic sabotage.
Saturday Vanguard which visited Ighwrenene community on Friday, April 3, reported that an official of the National Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, accompanied by two mobile policemen were at the scene making frantic calls on how to extinguish the inferno which was ravaging the area.
Another official attached to the Pipeline Surveillance Unit, PSU, in the area, who wishes anonymity, said that the affected pipeline was a trunk line, which convey the product from Eriemu, Kokori, Afiesere, Uzere, West-End at Kwale, Ogini, Olomoro and Owhe to the Ughelli Quality Control Center, UQCC.
Fire fighters from the NPDC, SPDC and the Delta State Fire Service departments could not extinguish the fire as one of their trucks got stuck along the road to the scene of the explosion making access to the spot almost impossible.
Lt. Col Mathew Oyekola, commanding officer of the 222 Battalion, Agbarha-Otor, confirmed that 15 suspects had so far been arrested in connection with the incident. The economic sabotage was coming about one week after some former leaders of the Niger- Delta militants threatened to return to the creeks and resume their war against the Nigerian state in response to General Buhari’s election victory over Jonathan.
But Jonathan’s quick congratulatory message to Buhari even before INEC, the electoral body, officially declared him winner doused tension in the land and forced some of them to retract their words. However, yesterday’s incident made the situation hazy.
Also, a group of Urhobo youths under the aegis of Urhobo Gbagbako yesterday claimed responsibility for the March 22, bombings of the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, oil pipe lines in Ekiugbo, Ughelli Local Government Area “on a massive scale.” It said that the aim was to give vent to their demand for pipe line surveillance contracts.
Nigeria is almost a one- product economy with oil contributing to about 90 percent of her wealth. At the height of militancy in the country between 2003 and 2004, oil production declined to 1.7 million barrels per day from the peak period of 2.7 million barrels per day previously which forced Musa Yar’Adua, late former President, to grant amnesty to the Niger Delta militants who fought from the creeks to drive home their demand for derivation and resource control in the country.
The Federal Government also approved 13 percent derivation as well as other programmes aimed at cushioning the effects of degradation occasioned by oil exploration for the oil producing states.
— Apr. 13, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT/