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Militants Attack Shell’s Houseboat, Kill 2

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Militants Attack Shell’s Houseboat, Kill 2 

Vanguard (Lagos)

NEWS
30 June 2008 
Posted to the web 30 June 2008 

By Emma Amaize, Jimitota Onoyume and Emmanuel Aziken
Lagos 
SUSPECTED militants yesterday attacked a houseboat owned by Shell in Oloma area of Rivers State, killing two security operatives. Another report said the militants also attacked a flow station belonging to the oil giant in the area.

But Shell denied any attack on the flow station. The company’s spokesman said the flow station was working.

The militants launched their attack in the early hours of yesterday. They later moved to Bonny and engaged men of the Joint Task Force in a gun duel that lasted several hours. During the shootout, stray bullets reportedly killed a pregnant woman and two others.

No group claimed responsibility for the action at press time. Said one community source: “The boys entered the town twice. They first came in the early hours of the day. We don’t know the faction but they were certainly militants.

They went to attack a houseboat belonging to Shell. It houses some Shell staff and naval personnel. We gathered two security operatives in the boat were killed.

“After this operation, they came into Bonny town. They exchanged gun fire with the JTF. Stray bullets killed a pregnant woman, a man and a petty trader.

JTF confirms attack

The army PRO and spokesman for the Joint Task Force in the state, Lieutenant Col Sagi Musa, confirmed the development to newsmen on phone, saying: “There was an attack at our location in Bonny which led to exchange of fire between suspected militants and troops deployed to maintain law and order in the area.

“Although there were casualties, I cannot confirm the number of persons affected. But it is greatly feared that two or more persons died as result of the encounter.

“The attack was at about 1800hrs yesterday (Saturday) when about 30 unknown gunmen attacked our location at Coal Beach in Bonny. One soldier was wounded, a civilian was beheaded by the bandits, two militants were killed as a result of the encounter.

On the attack on the Navy boat, the attack was repelled and it is feared that one person might have lost his life due to the encounter,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Army Command in the state said the situation had been brought under control.

Flow station still operating – Shell

Spokesman for the Anglo Dutch oil giant, Mr. Precious Okolubo, said the station was still operating at full capacity.

“As far as we can tell, Oloma flow station was not attacked. It is still operating,” he said in a text message to Vanguard.

Meanwhile, Service Chiefs in Rivers State yesterday undertook an assessment tour of some places in Bonny where the militants engaged the security operatives. At the end of the tour, they assured the community of safety.

N-Delta leaders blame region’s crises on North

Meantime, Niger Delta leaders including several senators hit back yesterday at the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) which, on Saturday, blamed them (Niger Delta leaders) for the restiveness in the South-South.

In firing the first salvo through a communique in Kaduna, ACF had declared that in spite of the huge resources accruing to the Niger Delta states, they have not been able to translate such resources into developmental projects for enhanced standard of living for the people.”

It cited efforts such as OMPADEC, NDDC and the 13 per cent derivation funds by successive administrations to address the problems of the Niger Delta.

The derivation fund, for instance, the ACF said, made a lot of funds available for the oil producing states such that some of them have a budget of N377 billion where states in other parts have N53 billion.

ACF uninformed – INC

But reacting to the statement yesterday, the President of th e Ijaw National Congress (INC), Professor Kimse Okoko, said such a view could only have come from political jobbers and uninformed people.

“That is what the uninformed will say.

That is what political jobbers and prostitutes will say. But the people of this region know that without the activities of the militants nobody would have listened to us. I don’t understand what they meant by we should share in the blame. We have heard that kind if reasoning before.

“Initially, they blamed the situation on corruption on the part of the governors in the region, and that since they had misused funds there was no need to raise derivation for the region.

“Now they have all been proved wrong in the sense that corruption is not the exclusive presence of governors of the region. The EFCC told the world that over 30 governors were corrupt. The Niger Delta has only six governors,” he said.

Senators rebuff ACF

Some Senators also rebuffed the ACF communique

Senator Ndoma-Egba:

“The situation in the Niger Delta is the consequence of the historical insensitivity of the Nigerian State to the region.

The problem is a Nigerian problem and should not be diminished by buck passing, excuses or alibis. This is the time for every Nigerian to show genuine commitment to addressing the injustices of the past.”

Senator Abaribe:

“Peace is necessary. But it does not help matters to blame the victim. Reducing the matter to blaming the leaders of Niger Delta only begs the question.”

Senator Chukwumerije:

“Unfortunate. Rather simplistic. Rise of militancy is the effect not the cause of the crisis. The cause of the crisis is the delinquency of the Nigerian State, the insensibility, ineffectiveness and myopia of the Federal Government of Nigeria, relevant State and Local Governments and the philistinism of the philosophy of our federal arrangement. Self righteous finger pointing is not the answer. All hands must be on the deck for a fair and lasting solution.”

Senator Ewa-Henshaw:

“I think it is a pity that they will say that because I can only respond with the words of Bob Marley who says that everybody talks about peace but nobody wants to talk about justice. Justice and fairness and equity are prerequisites for peace and I don’t know how the Niger Delta elders would have been responsible for the way that their people have been deprived.”

ACF said the truth – SSEPU

But disagreeing with the lawmakers, Mr. Ambakaderimo of the SSEPU said: “We welcome it even though some of us will not like to accept the truth, but it is the truth. We have had so much money coming to the area in the last 10 years, but we have not seen anything.

The Governors should be held responsible for the backwardness of the area. The states alone get so much money yet people will like to cast aspersion on the NDDC that gets less than 7%. The State Governments are not doing anything at all in the region.

“We support the ACF in totality. We should hold our leaders responsible. We should begin to ask our leaders questions. We must look inwards to ask our leaders to account for what they have received so far,” he said.

ACF represents parasites – MEND

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in response to an electronic mail by Vanguard dismissed as irrelevant the allegation by the Northern elders.

The MEND in the e-mail, signed by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said: “The ACF represents the parasites that have sucked on the Niger Delta region for the past 50 years. They have been the major beneficiaries by way of infrastructure, scholarships, and leaders that have looted the national treasury.

Their opinion at this time is irrelevant to us. We blame the North for the problem in the Niger Delta today.”

MEND further accused the North of being the first to take up arms in the country in coups executed by Northern army officers, saying if the fathers of the Niger Delta had perfected the armed struggle before now, things would not have deteriorated the way they are today.

Former civilian governor or Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; legal luminary, Prof. Itse Sagay; veteran politician, Senator Francis Okpozo; and coordinator of the Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG), Comrade Joseph Evah, who spoke to Vanguard, yesterday, said the simple way they view the allegation by the Northern leaders was that they were being naughty.

Okotie-Eboh calls for unity

However, PDP chieftain, Chief Adolor Okotie-Eboh, said he would not want to see the comments of the Northern elders as a quarrel but a brotherly advice to the Niger Delta to put their house in order.

“What the North is telling us is that we should put our house in order.

If we are united, nobody will be saying this kind of thing. So, the bottom line is that we should be united. The Niger Delta problem affects all parts of the country and they want to see how the problem can be resolved.

That is how I see it. The ball, to my mind, is now in our court to put our house in order,” Okotie-Eboh said.

Odigie-Oyegun responds:

Chief Odigie-Oyegun who acknowledged that the Northern leaders were entitled to their opinion said:

“To be candid, the whole nation is responsible for the militancy problem in the region. It is wrong to put the blame on the Niger Delta elders even though I will say they are partially right. The blame, however, is on the government, the political officer holders, the interventionist agencies like the NDDC and all other bodies that are vested with the development of the region, which have not done practically nothing to develop the area.”

Itse Sagay:

Legal expert, Prof Itse Sagay, told Vanguard: “I am not surprised. These are Northern elders who have been living on the exploitation of the Niger Delta. They see the people as objects of exploitation and there is nothing different from what they are saying now from what they said at the constitutional conference.”

He said the North was getting more than the 13 per cent it is accusing the Niger Delta of receiving from the Federation Account with the bogus number of local governments credited to it.

“They doubled their local governments, which is more than the 13 per cent we are receiving. What they collect in the North for their fake local governments is far more than what we get and they don’t publish it.

They are using the fake local governments to siphon the Niger Delta money, which they did not allow when they were the ones producing the wealth that sustained the nation, some years ago,” he said.

Senator Okpozo:

Senator Okpozo said: “The statement by the Northern leaders is unfortunate because when the revenue from our oil is distributed, there is no segregation. We are not getting our due share of derivation up till date compared to what they got during their own time.

“It is not correct to say that the problem of militancy in the region is caused by Niger Delta leaders. The problem is national in outlook. They, the North, are even the cause of the problem because they are the ones exploiting the wealth of the Niger Delta and care no hoot about the effects of oil exploration on the people.

“Abuja was a forest some 20 years ago but they have used the money from our oil to turn it to modern city. Before this time, they said it is for everybody, but, now, they say it for the Northern people and they are even paying people compensation to claim the place as their own. So why will the Niger Delta youths who have seen the deceit not be angry,” he queried.

Ijaw Monitoring Group:

Comrade Evah in his reaction, yesterday, said:

“We salute the Arewa Consultative Forum for reminding us of our rotting political legacy. There is no doubt that we are ourselves enemy in politics, military, civil service and even the oil industry where Niger Deltans, well placed, deprive others from benefitting while politicians loot their state and local government treasures to please the North and Oversea countries.

“Today, we are up in arms against Nigeria and instead of facing the facts of the matter they are manipulating the Vice President to divide us and prolong the anarchy and oil war. If Arewa leaders love Nigeria they should stop using their agents in Aso Rock to deceive Vice President Goodluck Jonathan in order to portray him as enemy of his people and homeland.

“If we allow Gambari to lead that fake summit, the spirit of Isaac Boro and Ken Saro-Wiwa will not forgive us.”


Copyright © 2008 Vanguard. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).


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