A crude oil pipeline belonging to Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC , has been set ablaze in Ikienghenbiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, following a clash between rival armed groups over alleged disputed surveillance contract.
The incident, which occurred at 2a.m., Sunday, sources told our reporter, caused panic in the riverside community with many residents fleeing their homes to neighbouring communities.
The latest skirmish is coming on the heels of calls by ex-militants in the Niger Delta under the aegis of Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative, LPCDI, on reneged militant groups in the region to stop attacks on oil and gas pipelines to allow President Muhammadu Buhari fulfill his electoral promises to the region.
Meanwhile, a group of armed youths from Ikienghenbiri community have been arrested for allegedly blowing up a major oil pipeline line owned by Agip with dynamites.
The armed men, who attacked the pipeline in the swamp of Azuzuama-Ikienghenbiri axis of the trunk conveying the crude oil from Tebidaba to Brass terminal, were allegedly led by Suoyou, Iyelawei and Fyneboy.
A statement, yesterday, in Yenagoa by the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Jonathan Obuebite, said that the pipeline vandals were apprehended by youths of Azuzuama community, who got wind of the attack.
On the pipeline that was set ablaze, an indigene of Ikienghenbiri community told our reporter that the armed groups were locked in struggle for control of the Tebidaba-Brass crude trunk line, which passed through the area.
“The armed men vandalized the pipeline along Azuzuama-Ikienghenbiri axis of the Tebidaba-Brass pipeline with dynamites and also ignited fire on the line. The vandalized point is still on fire,” said a community service.
Another source, said: “We understand that it is a conflict between two armed groups for access to the crude pipeline, one group claims to be working to safeguard the pipeline and said that members of the other group are vandals, they have been shooting.
“The sound of the gunfire is scaring and there is no sign of the Joint Task Force, JTF, soldiers who are supposed to be patrolling the area, we have not seen any soldier.” According to him, the pipeline was set ablaze while the two groups engaged each other in a gun battle, adding that there was no way to ascertain if there was any casualty.