The federal government has condemned the attack on Chevron Valve Platform in Warri South-West Local government area of Delta state, saying it is open to dialogue.
A group known as the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) claimed responsibility for the attack, threatening to cripple the nation’s economy if the government does not respond to its demand.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Friday, Paul Boroh, special adviser to the president on Niger Delta and coordinator of the presidential amnesty programme, said the government was willing to discuss, no matter the grievances of the group.
“Pipeline vandalism is an avoidable self-inflicted agony. It is unreasonable to engage in such criminal activity not only because of the resultant economic effect on the country but particularly as it also negatively affects the Niger Delta environment,” Boroh said.
“The act of vandalising pipelines is counter-productive apart from it being a crime against the state. Those involved in this nefarious activity are economic and environmental saboteurs. It will do well for them to refrain from it, as my office is always open to dialogue regardless of their grievances.
“The federal government already has in place a well-structured reintegration programme for youths of the region, which has helped in maintaining the peace and stabilising security of the region. The Amnesty Programme has made militancy unattractive in the region mainly because of the government’s sincerity and commitment to the programme. The proper thing is for those behind such activity to embrace dialogue.”
Commending security agencies for their commitment to ensuring peace in the region, he warned that his office would not hesitate to delist and bring to book any beneficiary of the programme that engages in criminal activity.
Meanwhile, the joint military force (JMF) in the Niger Delta said it had arrested 16 suspects who allegedly vandalised pipelines and engaged in illegal bunkering in Delta.
Isa Ado, spokesman of the force, made this known during a news conference at the 222 Battalion Headquarters in Ughelli in Delta on Friday.
Ado said that the suspects were nabbed in two separate operations in the state.
According to him, in one of the operations, the force recovered 124 pieces of oil pipes valued at over N18 million at Otokutu village in Ughelli.
He said the pipes, meant for a project at Aburah, were stolen from the oil fields operated by Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), adding that four suspects, including an NPDC staff member, were arrested.
Other items recovered included a Toyota Sports Utility Van (SUV) kept at the 222 battalion headquarters.
Ado said in the second operation: “Our troops from the Maritime Component, NNS DELTA, found and destroyed many illegal oil bunkering sites between April 22 and 24.
“The sites were located around Tagola community, near Egwa 1 in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta.
“Items recovered include six 10,000 litres capacity storage tanks, 30 drums and plastic tanks containing substances suspected to be stolen crude.
“Also, 12 suspects were arrested along SPDC-Forcados Line with two large boats carrying 39 plastic tanks filled with illegally refined diesel and 13 pumping machines.
“The items and suspects are in custody of NNS DELTA for preliminary investigations.”
Ado urged community leaders to discourage their youths from vandalism, and assist the force with credible information that will lead to arrest of culprits.