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Nigeria: MEND Attacks Shell Facility

Nigeria: MEND Attacks Shell Facility

George Onah, Hector Igbikiowubo and Yemie Adeoye
Lagos

THE Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) yesterday attacked a major trunk pipeline belonging to Shell at Awoba flow station in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.

It claimed to have killed 11 soldiers in the attack and sunk their boat.The Joint Task Force (JTF) swiftly dismissed the allegation as a lie.

Also yesterday, fire rocked Gbaga village in Ogun State occasioned by the activities of vandals who attempted to siphon petrol from one of the lines supplying the Mosimi depot of the NNPC.

The Army Public Relations Officer of the 2nd Brigade and spokesman for the Joint Task Force, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, dismissed the report on the killing of soldiers as ” not only a lie, but it is dubious bunkum.

The flow station is not guarded by any armed men. How and where did they get the soldiers they claim to have killed?”

But spokesman for Shell, Mr. Tony Okonedo, told Vanguard on phone that “yes, we can confirm an attack on Nembe Creek pipeline at Awoba. We carried out an overfly of the area and observed oil spill.

“As a precautionary measure, production has been shut-in and we do not know the amount of oil that has been spilled in the area. However, efforts are being intensified to check further spill of oil in the area,” he said.

However, in an online statement to Vanguard in Port Harcourt, MEND said: “On Monday, May 26, 2008 at 0100 Hrs, backed by heavily armed fighters, detonation engineers from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), successfully sabotaged another major trunk pipeline at Awoba Flow Station in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company.

“Minutes after the sabotage, our fighters encountered a military gunboat which opened fire blindly on the advance guard. We flanked them in a counter-attack and killed in close combat all the soldiers numbering eleven.”

The statement which was signed by Jomo Gbomo also said that “we collected their weapons, ammunition and bullet-proof vests before using dynamite to sink the gunboat with its dead occupants.

“The two traumatised adolescent girls found in the company of the soldiers were hurt, not from the skirmish, but from gang rape by the soldiers. They were dropped off in the neighbouring village by our men who have since returned safely to camp.

“Today’s (yesterday’s) attack is dedicated to the administration of Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan who have failed after one year in office to ensure peace, security and reconciliation in the Niger Delta region.”

Pipeline explosion rocks Gbaga village

Meanwhile, a petroleum products fire yesterday rocked Gbaga village located on the outskirts of Ogun State owing to the activities of vandals who attempted to siphon petrol from one of the lines supplying the Mosimi depot of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Reacting to the development, Dr. Livi Ajuonuma, the NNPC Group General Manager, Public Affairs, said vandals were caught scooping fuel and in an attempt to check their activities, the NNPC’s contracted security attracted gun-fire which ignited the pipeline.

“The area was already soaked in fuel, waiting for a spark to ignite. Indeed, the vandals provided the necessary spark which ignited the area, leaving eight persons critically injured.”

Comrade Aderemi Koledoye, Secretary General of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) sais the attack was carried out at 3:30 a.m (yesterday) by yet to be identified persons.

“Vandals were trying to connect a valve to the pipeline so that they could scoop fuel into a waiting tanker and a spillage occurred which they could not control. Officials of the Pipeline Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC, got wind of this and moved into the area.

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“They got there with four Mobile policemen to join eight other surveillance guards of the PTD, an arm of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) workers union. Unfortunately, when they moved into the area, they did not know that the whole place was drenched in fuel and their vehicle ignited a fire.

“Eight of them are in critical situation, while the other four discharged themselves from hospital yesterday. There was no loss of life or property,” Comrade Aderemi said.

At the time of filling this report, although the fire had been put out, petrol was still gushing out of the broken line and huge smoke was still billowing into the air.

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