The attack on Chevron Nigeria Limited’s Abiteye oil pipeline in Warri South-West Local government area of Delta state was an avoidable self-inflicted agony, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Paul Boroh, said on Friday.
Mr. Boroh, who is also the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), condemned the attack as the handiwork of some misguided elements, saying it posed a grave danger not only to the Niger Delta region, but also to the Nigerian economy as a whole.
“Pipeline vandalism is an avoidable self-inflicted agony,” he said. “It is unreasonable to engage in such criminal activity not only because of the resultant economic effect on the country, but particularly as it also negatively affects the Niger Delta environment.”
He described pipelines vandalism as counter-productive, apart from being a crime against the state, pointing out that those involved in the nefarious activity were economic and environmental saboteurs.
Urging the perpetrators to refrain from such negative activities, Mr. Boroh said regardless of their grievances, they should embrace the open dialogue initiated by the federal government through the Amnesty programme.
Mr. Boroh said the federal government already has in place a well-structured reintegration programme for Niger Delta youths, which has helped in maintaining the prevailing peace, security and stability in the region in recent times.
“The Amnesty Programme has made militancy unattractive in the region mainly because of the government’s sincerity and commitment to the programme. The proper thing is for those behind such activity to embrace dialogue,” Mr. Boroh said.
He warned that any beneficiary of the Amnesty programme implicated in any criminal activity to sabotage the oil facilities and the operations of the companies would be delisted and sanctioned.
Following the incident, a group by the name, Niger Delta Avengers, which had earlier claimed responsibility for the sabotage of a Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC facility in the Forcados areas of Delta State, also said it was behind the latest attack.
The group’s spokesperson, Madoch Agninibo, had warned that more attacks of other oil installations were being planned for Abuja and Lagos, while other multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta risk being attacked if the government did not meet their demands.
“This is what we promised the Nigerian Government. Since they have refused to listen to us, we are going to bring the country’s economy to zero,” the group said.
CNL had confirmed that the incident occurred at its Okan offshore facility in the Western Niger Delta. Oil production from the facility has since been shut-in till further notice.
The return to armed restiveness in the region has already triggered fears among oil companies operating the region, even as the joint military force (JMF) in the region said about 16 suspects who were involved in the recent pipelines vandalism and illegal bunkering in Delta state have been arrested.
The spokesperson of the force, Isa Ado, told reporters at the 222 Battalion Headquarters Ughelli in Delta on Friday that the suspects were caught in two separate operations in the state.
In one of the operations, Mr. Ado said the force recovered over 124 pieces of oil pipelines at Otokutu village in Ughelli valued at over N18 million.
He said the oil pipelines meant for a project at Aburah were stolen from the oil fields operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC upstream subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
Four suspects, including an NPDC staff, were arrested during the operation, while a Toyota Sports Utility Van (SUV) was also recovered.
Between April 22 and 24, he said the Maritime arm of the force, NNS Delta, also uncovered and destroyed many illegal oil bunkering sites located around Tagola community, near Egwa 1 in Warri South-West Local Government Area of the state.
Other items recovered included six storage tanks with 10,000 litres capacity; 30 drums and plastic tanks containing crude oil suspected to have been stolen;
About 12 suspects were arrested along Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, SPDC-Forcados Line with two large boats conveying 39 plastic tanks filled with illegally refined petroleum products and 13 pumping machines.
Mr. Ado said the suspects and confiscated items have been taken into the custody of NNS Delta pending investigations.