Barely seven days after the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) gave notice of its intention to resume hostilities in the Niger Delta, another militant group, Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders (NDRC), said on Thursday it was suspending its ceasefire.
The militants have warned Nigerians and foreigners to vacate oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta region now in their own interest to avoid being caught in the impending crossfire.
The group said it was suspending the ceasefire it announced last year and would join the Avengers in the resumption of militancy involving attacks on oil and gas installations.
Avengers announced on Friday that it was fed up with the Federal Government’s tardiness in fulfilling its promises to Niger Delta region.
NDRC said its decision to suspend ceasefire was to join forces with the Niger Delta Avengers in the struggle for the emancipation of the marginalised Niger Delta region.
In a statement by its Spokesperson, W. O. I. Izon-Ebi, the group said: “We have today suspended the ceasefire we declared last year to join forces with the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), to destroy oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.
“We want to use this opportunity to tell all Nigerians and expatriates working at Agbami, Akpo, Usan, Erna, Abo, Yoho, Unity and Benga FPSO platforms operated by Chevron Nigeria Limited, Total, Mobil, Agip and Shell to vacate the platforms.”
The group explained that the advice to Nigerians and foreigners to vacate the region was as a result of NDRC’s concern for their safety, which the group claimed, could no longer be guaranteed by “the gods of the rivers, ocean, sea and land.”
The group added that the Federal Government was not ready to develop the Niger Delta region, but that all they wanted was the continuous exploitation of the region to develop the northern part of the country that added nothing to the national till.
Stakeholders have said that the recent threat by Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and now Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders, whose attacks on oil and gas facilities in the region aided Nigeria’s economy into its worst recession in 25 years may push Nigeria back to financial brink if the Federal Government does not respond immediately.
Amidst optimism over Nigeria’s claim of exiting recession, militant attacks in the Niger Delta at this time may spur another round of oil production and export difficulties which may result into forex crisis, they noted.
Investigations have revealed that multinational oil companies are already apprehensive, recalling their experience in the immediate past when militant actions threw the oil sector into a spiral of losses.
Their workers are also in fear as the militants noted that “our next line of operation will not be like the 2016 campaign which we operated successfully without any casualties; this outing will be brutish, brutal and bloody.”
Shell recently said its oil production in Nigeria fell as low as 105,000 barrels of oil per day in the last quarter of 2016 with the resurgence of militancy in the region that bears the biggest chunk of Nigeria’s wealth.
The companies are, however, banking on the government to keep the militants in check in order to guarantee peace in the Niger Delta and sustain current oil production volume in the country.
It would be recalled that the activities of Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) in 2016 negatively affected Nigeria’s crude oil production and sales.
Production began sliding in February 2016 when the Niger Delta Avengers claimed an attack on an underwater pipeline running that forced Royal Dutch Shell to shut down its Forcados export terminal.
That singular action knocked off at least 250,000bpd.
Shell had also declared force majeure on exports of Bonny Light crude after a leak on one of its trunk lines in the Niger Delta, even as Chevron also shut a platform after an attack also claimed by the Niger Delta Avengers.
As at May 2016, Nigeria’s oil production had dropped to 1.65 million barrels a day, the lowest output in 22 years, as a result of resurgence of militant activities.
At a time, Babachir David Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), declared that the Federal Government cannot fully implement the N6.06 trillion 2016 budget as passed by the National Assembly following attacks by Niger Delta Avengers on oil and gas facilities. (INDEPENDENT)