The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) said yesterday that it resumed its bombings of oil installations because of the continued presence of troops in the Niger Delta.
According to the group, the continued presence of troops has undermined peace talks between the region’s leaders and the government.
Leaders of the region including Chief Edwin Clark, and Minister of state Petroleum Ibe Kachikwu, have urged militants to stop the attacks following strikes on the Trans Forcados Pipeline, main contributor to the Forcados crude stream, the most recent of which was claimed by the NDA.
Most groups have adhered to a ceasefire in the last few weeks while the government held talks with community leaders who, like the militants, want a greater share of Nigeria’s energy wealth to go to the region that produces most of its oil.
“The Niger Delta Avengers cannot be blamed for the continuous bombing of crude oil export pipelines and other oil installations, since the government has been relentlessly carrying out military build ups to continuously harass communities,” the NDA said on its website.
President Muhammadu Buhari sent army reinforcements in May to hunt down militants, a move that stoked anger as residents complained of rape, looting and arrests of youths unrelated to the militants, charges denied by the military.
On Nov. 1, Buhari met leaders from the region since the attacks began. They urged him to withdraw troops, order oil firms to move their headquarters there and spend more on development to end the militancy.
“The High Command of the NDA is only reacting to government’s deliberate attempts to undermine the process to dialogue and negotiations,” the NDA said in its statement.
It added that “the path to sustain the cessation of hostilities in the region” could not be achieved “when there are clear cases of deliberate security surge by the Nigerian government”.
Attacks since the start of the year cut the OPEC member’s oil production by more than a third in the summer.
But, with attacks becoming less frequent in the last few months, the oil minister said output had recovered to 2.1 million barrels a day. That brought it roughly back to levels before the attacks began.