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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Peace at risk as Nigerian militants
resume threat to oil installations        

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- A fragile peace in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region is at risk sliding as militants resumed a threat for renewed hostilities and bombings of oil installations in the region.

Last year, attacks by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) militant group, reduced the country’s output to the lowest in more than two decades.

These attacks by the NDA crippled Nigeria’s oil production and export operations, pushing output to more than a 21-year low, forcing Nigeria to lose its status as Africa’s top oil producer.

On Friday, the militant group, which halted attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta region, in 2016, following various appeals from the Niger Delta leaders, had renounced the ceasefire.

The group in a statement by its spokesperson, Murdoch Agbinibo, disowned the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), who are intermediaries between it and the government.

The PANDEF is led by the former Federal Commissioner for Information, Edwin Clark, who had also appealed to the group to maintain the existing peace.

The militant group has launched several attacks on international oil facilities in southern Nigeria as part of its campaign to get what it calls a fairer distribution of the region’s oil wealth to local people.

In a quick reaction, the Nigerian government has appealed to militants in the oil rich Niger Delta region to reconsider its threat for renewed hostilities and bombings of oil installations in the region.

Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Victor Ndoma-Egba, in a statement reaching Xinhua on Tuesday appealed to the group to tow the path toward a peaceful resolution of all contentious issues.

He urged the group to sheathe their swords and also advised that violence will lead nowhere but aggravate the situation.

Ndoma-Egba stressed that the damage done would be felt by the region that is already overstretched and earnestly needs rapid development.

Also, the Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Program (PAP), Paul Boroh urged members of the militant group to maintain the existing peace in the region.

The planned resumption of hostilities would be devastating to the nation’s economy, he added, noting that violence sometimes may have cleared away obstructions quickly, but it never had proved to be creative.

The presidential aide said peace could only be achieved by understanding and not by force.

He, however, advised the group to make a difference and halt the violence that would devastate the nation’s economy.

The coordinator appealed to the group to adopt dialogue instead of violence.

Boroh lauded the group for the ceasefire five months ago and appealed it should be sustained no matter their grievances.

The presidential aide appealed to the group not to blow up pipelines and oil installations in the region; adding that it would be an economic sabotage against the nation.

The Nigerian government offered amnesty to gunmen in June 2009 in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, urging them to lay down their weapons by Oct. 4, 2009 in a bid to end the unrest which has cost the African top oil exporter billions of dollars in revenue.

Over 8,000 Nigerian armed youths gave up their weapons and embraced the amnesty offered by the Nigerian government in the most concerted effort yet to end years of fighting in the oil-rich producing region.

The Niger Delta is an unstable area where inter-ethnic clashes are commonplace. Access to oil revenue is the trigger for the violence. Over 300 foreigners have been seized in the Niger Delta since 2006. Almost all have been released unharmed after paying a ransom.

Attacks and bunkering on oil pipelines in the Niger Delta have cut Nigeria’s output by around a fifth in recent years, helping push world oil prices to record highs since the beginning of 2006.

The unrest in the region has forced many international firms to flee the area. The government has mobilized the Nigerian army and coast guard in an anti-banditry operation.

           

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