As the Federal Government moves against the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), militancy in the region has taken another dimension as a new group: The New Delta Suicide Squad (NDSS) has emerged.
Unlike the NDA which concentrates its attacks on pipelines and facilities of major oil firms, the new group has threatened to destroy the equipment of private oil firms’ installations in the region.
The announcement of the group came on the heels of President Muhammadu Buhari’s threat in a national broadcast to mark his first anniversary in office, to crush the upsurge in militancy in the Niger Delta which has crippled Nigeria’s oil production.
The NDSS warned owners of tank farms, storage tanks and private jetties to quit the Niger Delta within seven days.
It said failure to comply with the deadline, the owners of such facilities stood the risk of losing their investments.
In a statement issued on Monday by the spokesman of the group, Harry Ebiye, he said: “The New Niger Delta Suicide Squad warns all owners of tank farms, storage tanks and private jetties to quit the region within the next seven days beginning from the date of this publication or risk the destruction of all their facilities from the date of the expiration of this ultimatum.
“The exploitation of this region by scavengers, economic pirates, and cowboys must come to an end” Ebiye said.
Top officials of the Federal Government are divided over how to handle the current attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta by militants.
A meeting with representatives of top militants in the region, reportedly organised last week by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) on how to contain the security problems in the Niger Delta, ended in a deadlock.
One camp had reportedly broached the idea of using a former South-South governor to reach out to the militants, but shelved the idea when it was realised that the former governor did not have the required clout and contacts amongst the militants.
Another issue being reportedly considered is that of the detention for over 70 days, without trial, of Azibaola Roberts, a cousin of former President Goodluck Jonathan, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ironically, Roberts is being held by the EFCC for a $40 million contract to secure oil pipelines during the Jonathan administration. Some security sources hinted on the possibility of the government engaging Roberts to negotiate with the militants currently destroying oil pipelines in the region, since he had successfully handled such projects before on behalf of the government.
An EFCC source hinted that they did not have sufficient evidence to charge Roberts to court, but that having detained him for over 70 days, the commission may be left with no option than to charge him to “any court, just to save face.”