Barely one year after Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the most dreaded militant group in Niger Delta, declared ceasefire, another militant group yesterday said it carried out a “warning” strike on an oil facility owned by Consolidated Oil in Koluama, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and threatened a production shut down.
However, spokesman of Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to protect oil facilities in the Niger Delta, Mr Ibrahim Abdullahi, an army Major, has described the report as the handiwork of mischief makers to misinform the public.
Ango 5 and 6 oil fields owned by Consolidated Oil were said to have been blown up by a group of militants called Koluama Seven Brothers.
The group in a statement signed by its President, General Angel Michael, said the attack on the oil facility was because of some unresolved issues bordering on the implementation of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on scholarship and job creation for the people of the area.
It said the attack was a warning, adding that if it failed to address the issues being raised by the people of the area, it would carry out further attacks to shut down the operations of the oil firm.
“Our early hours’ strike of 12:20a.m January 4, 2019, at Angle 2 field of Conoil is just a warning to Conoil. If Conoil fails to address the issues behind the MoU, scholarships, job creation for the peace-loving people of Koluama clan, then we have no other option than to lunch a strike to shut down Conoil.”
A youth leader in Koluama community, Mr. Henry Omietimi, who said he was briefed of the incident by a member of a local security attached to the area, however, said he was yet to get the full details.
He also said he was investigating to know whether it was really an attack on the oil field or an attack on the pipeline.
Media Officer of the Bayelsa command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Mr J. N. Harcourt, confirmed the incident but said he was yet to get details.
“I am yet to receive full details from officer-in-charge of Koluama due to bad network,” he said.
Factional president of Ijaw Youths Council, Mr Eric Omare, cautioned against early attribution of the attack to a militant group to signal the resumption of hostilities in Niger Delta region.
He promised to investigate and issue a detailed statement.
“I’m yet to get the details of the pipeline explosion hence it would be premature to assume that it was a militant attack. I will issue a detail statement.”
NDA came into national limelight in February 2016 when it bombed Trans-Forcados pipeline, the first attack on a subsea pipeline in the country.
A spill that occurred on February 14, 2016 on the subsea crude oil export pipeline, had forced Shell to declare force majeure on Forcados liftings a week later.
Attempts to repair the 48-inch pipeline were frustrated by further attacks by the militants.
For instance, the pipeline resumed exports in October 2016 after it was repaired but was shut down in November after the militants bombed the subsea facility for the second time.
Many companies experienced zero production for almost one year before production was restored after the dreaded militant group declared ceasefire.
Companies hit by the bombing of the subsea pipeline included Shell, Seplat, Shoreline Resources Limited, Neconde, First Hydrocarbon Nigeria (FHN) and NPDC.
Others included marginal field producers such as Pillar Oil, Midwestern Oil and Gas, Platform Petroleum and Energia.
JTF Denies Militants’ Attack
Meanwhile, the military has described the report of the militants’ attack on the oil facility as a hoax.
Also, Mathew Sele-Epri, a community leader in Koluama 1 and Chairman, KEFFES Rural Development Board, said the report was false.
Dismissing the incident as ‘fake news’, spokesman of the Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to protect oil facilities in the Niger Delta, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said it was the handiwork of mischief makers to misinform the public.
He said the security outfit had conducted checks to verify the claim of attack by a militant group and found no substance in it.
“After exhaustive verifications, following enquiries from media practitioners, we found out that no such incident happened.
“We enjoin the media to crosscheck their facts before rushing to the press to avoid publishing falsehoods like this,” Abdullahi said.