New Niger Delta Militant Group Blows Up Agip Facility in Niger Delta

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Amaechi Okonkwo, Port Harcourt

A new militant group known as Bayan-Men, has claimed responsibility for the explosion at the Onosi-Ogu Manifold owned by Italian oil major, Agip Oil Company (NAOC). The manifold is located in Obosi area of Omoku, near Port Harcourt.

The attack is the second by the group against Agip facility in the last one week. The militants said the attacks were carried out to express their disenchantment with Agip’s poor implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Agip and host communities.

The attack which took place on Tuesday, happened two days after the expiration of the 24 hours ultimatum earlier handed to Nigeria Agip Oil Company by the new militant group. Eye witness accounts said the heavy sound of explosion caused panic as fire erupted shortly after the sound of the explosion.

The Bayan-Men in a yesterday claimed responsibility of the attack, saying it was response to what they described “injustice against the Omoku people.” The statement signed by one General Agaba, on behalf of the group, threatened to carry out more on Agip facilities if the firm does not retrace it’s step and engage the communities of Omoku directly.

“The action we carried out is as a result of Agip’s failure to comply with the 24 hours ultimatum we handed to them to engage our people on how to commence dealing directly with individual communities order than through individuals,” the Bayan-Men said.

The statement went on; “We are not criminals, we are intellectuals. The fact is that when a man is pushed to the wall, he bounces back with double force. We are giving Agip another seven days to open windows of negotiation with the 27 communities of Omoku clan.

“This meeting will involve the Chiefs of these communities, the CDC (Community Development Committee) chairmen of the communities and the youths presidents of the 27 communities. That is how we want it.

“We don’t want it in anybody’s parlour, we want it at the Civic Centre where everybody will come. The reason we want to soft-pedal now is because of the appeals from different quarters and our Nchaka festival that is coming up on Sunday. We don’t want anything to affect our festival.”

General Agaba expressed regrets over the interference of the military in the development, adding that group was interested in justice for their people. “We are surprised at the level of interference by the military and DSS who are in charge of the federal government facility. They are supposed to maintain law and order.

“The federal government had advised them (Agip) to deal with the different communities independently. Why are the security men taking side with the company? They come, take money and subvert justice. What we want is Justice. You can’t come to my community and take the land and leave me hungry. We have heard that Agip has sent military to put out the fire but they have not been able to do that. It is now or never,” the militant groups said.

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