FG to meet N’Delta leaders

The Federal Government will hold a meeting with community leaders and representatives of terrorists from the Niger Delta region next week, in Abuja, with a view to ending the attacks on oil facilities in the southern region, two government sources have revealed.

Attacks on Nigeria’s energy facilities by groups calling for the Delta region to receive a greater share of the country’s oil wealth have cut crude production, which stood at 2.1 million barrels per day at the start of the year, by a third.

The federal government has been holding talks for months to end the violence but no lasting ceasefire has been agreed so far in the oil hub where many complain about poverty despite the area providing most of Nigeria’s oil exports.

“An enlarged Niger Delta stakeholders’ dialogue will be held in Abuja on October 31,” a source said.

Oil minister, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, and possibly President Muhammadu Buhari would take part in the session, one of the sources said.

Buhari has called for dialogue but not taken part in any previous meetings which took place in the Niger Delta.

The Niger Delta Avengers, which has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks on energy facilities in the region since the start of the year, had initially declared a ceasefire in August but then claimed another attack last month.

Another group, the Greenland Justice Mandate, which has never agreed to cease hostilities, has claimed several attacks on crude pipelines run by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation   (NNPC) since last month.

Nigeria agreed in 2009 with major militant groups on a ceasefire to end a previous insurgency but previously unknown groups took up arms again after authorities tried to arrest a former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) on corruption charges.

Any ceasefire would be difficult to enforce as the militant scene is splintered into small groups made up of angry young unemployed men who even their leaders struggle to control.

Meanwhile, Niger Delta terrorists, yesterday, threatened to blow up Shell Petroleum and Development Company, an Anglo-Dutch subsidiary, if the company went ahead to reopen the Trans-Forcados pipelines earlier attacked by the Niger Delta Avengers.

Despite the ongoing dialogue, the group further threatened that no amount of military shield would stop it from bringing down the major crude line if Shell went ahead to reopen its facility.

The Trans-Forcados underwater pipeline is one of Nigeria’s biggest crude lines, supplying crude oil to the export terminal which produces about 250, 000 barrels of crude oil per day.

In a statement issued by the spokesman for the militant group, Tam Bashire, a copy of which was made available to our reporter, he berated the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PNDF) led by Chief E.K. Clark which had scheduled a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on October 29, 2016.



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