Attacks On Delta Oil, Gas Pipelines: Okowa Condemns Bombing *JTF Reads Riot Act To Militants *Tompolo Denies Involvement *IItsekiris Blame Ijaws

Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) – 
Delta State Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa, has condemned in strongest terms, the recent attacks on the oil and gas facilities across the state and called on all Deltans to cooperate with the security agencies to unmask the criminals behind the heinous crime.

The bombing took place few days after a Stakeholders Summit organized by the Delta State Government which held on Wednesday, 13th January, 2016 in Effurun to address the challenges of oil and gas pipeline vandalism and bunkering in the State.

Specifically, on Thursday, 14th January, 2016, these elements blew up the Escravos-Warri-Abuja-Lagos pipelines and the Chevron Nigeria Limited’s Utunan-Makaraba crude oil pipeline in the early hours of Friday, 15th January, 2016. This act of sabotage was further perpetrated in the early hours of Saturday, 16th January, 2016 when the Olero gas pipeline was bombed.

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, the Governor urged the security agencies to intensify their surveillance over the oil facilities and pledged the commitment of his administration to support all measures that would restore the confidence of all stakeholders in the oil & gas industry operating in Delta state.

“These attacks should be condemned by all well meaning Nigerians, particularly compatriots from Niger Delta. This is an attack on our soul. The state is bleeding again and its implication for the economy and image of Delta state grave”, he said.

The Governor noted that only last week, his administration hosted a stakeholders’ summit on the effects of the VANDALISM of oil and gas facilities in the state; where the various arms of the security agencies, the oil and gas operators and the host communities converged to brainstorm on measures to stem the activities of vandals.

He noted these attacks, coming just few days after the summit, was not a good way of reciprocating the good intentions of his government and the enormous resources that are being invested in turning around the fortunes of the state.

He called on community leaders and youth groups to resist any temptation to be drawn into these nefarious activities as this might jeopardize the on-going intervention of federal government, in the lives of the youths, through the Amnesty Office.

“Do not be part of this crime and refuse to listen to any leader or politician who would want to pitch one ethnic nationality against the other as a result of these incidents. The destruction of oil facilities is purely criminal and we reject attempts to label it otherwise”, the Governor observed.
Meanwhile, soldiers have invaded Okpelama community, Gbaramatu kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State, in search of militants, who commenced bombing of crude oil and gas pipelines in state, few hours after a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos issued a bench warrant for the arrest of ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.

The soldiers were also keeping surveillance on Kurutie, the hometown of Tompolo and Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu kingdom.

The Joint Task Force Commander of Operation Pulo Shield in the Niger Delta, Major General Alani Okunola, has said that the task force was closing in on those blowing up oil pipelines belonging the Nigeria Gas Company, Chevron Nigeria Limited and Nigeria National Petroleum Company, NNPC. He vowed that JTF would fish them out.

JTF commander, Major General Okunola, who led his troop to inspect one of the blown up pipelines at Egwa II community in Warri South West, said the army would hold community leaders in whose domain such bombing took place responsible for any act of sabotage in their area.

Tompolo, however, has continued to plead his innocence in the attacks, saying he did not carry out any bombing and did not send anybody to destroy oil installations. He insisted that his enemies sponsored the mayhem to spite him.

Chief Patrick Bigha, in a statement said “The Warri Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group wishes to condemn the renewed wanton destruction of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region. We are truly disturbed with this happening as the Nigerian economy is in a bad shape; therefore, we are calling on those behind this act to cease hostilities immediately.

“We are not happy over the incident as it look like a smear campaign against the person of High Chief Government Ekpemupolo.

“It is worthy of note that Tompolo will not embark on such self destructive mission as one that fervently believes in the Nigeria project, and has contributed to peace building and development of Nigeria.”

The Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, which on Sunday condemned the attack on oil facilities in some parts of the state, has called for a halt to the military siege to five Ijaw communities of Ikpokpo, Saghara, Opuedebubo, Okpeleama and Tebujo, all in Gbaramatu Kingdom.

Three other Ijaw groups: Ijaw People Development Initiative, IPDI, National Association of Izon-Ebe Law Students, NALS and Niger Delta Youths for Positive Change, NDYPC, also condemned the latest attacks on oil installations by yet to be identified militants

The Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade, FHRACC, in a statement by its national president, Alaowei Cleric, however, cautioned the federal government to handle the face-off between it and Tompolo with care.

The development has also led to the Chair, Itsekiri Regional Development Council, IRDC, Chief Ayiri Emami to express concern over the attacks which he claimed were targeted at oil facilities in Itsekiri towns and villages, saying it might metamorphose into another Ijaw/Itsekiri war.

He alleged that those carrying out the attacks were Ijaw militants known to the security agencies, state and federal governments, and challenged them to rein in the gunmen.

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