A new group, Niger Delta Advancement Frontier, has alleged that the Niger Delta Avengers are attacking oil and gas facilities in the region to blackmail President Muhammadu Buhari into not probing their corrupt deals under President Goodluck Jonathan.
The group charged the president not to succumb to the whims of the militant group who aims to draw him into allowing them go with their loots and pledged to work with other stakeholders and government to stop the rampaging Niger Delta Avengers from blowing up pipelines in the region and halt what it called a looming danger of expanding attacks on oil facilities.
They also wants Buhari not to make the mistake of allowing the sponsors of the Avengers to have their way as it would embolden the traumatised oil companies to enter into contracts of protection with them as well as mutate other groups to do so, thereby plunging the region into another session of anomy.
A statement by the National President of the group, Nengi Jasper, Secretary Erepadei Ngozi and Provost, Dennis Boloudiowei, said the group rose from an emergency meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, with a resolve to come out and fight the avengers because of the implication of their continued activities.
According to them, unless President Muhammadu Buhari moved fast, oil companies may panic and start employing any group that claimed affiliation with the Avengers to protect their production activities since they would rather cut back loses by going back to production.
Rather they advised the president to interface with communities and groups minded to stopping the carnage with the military so that they can rout the Avengers who they said were a phony and selfish body whose aim was to protect the business interest of their masters.
“The Avengers who we do not believe are real are just forcing the hand of Buhari to leave scrutinising of their contracts under President Jonathan and feel the best way was to arm-twist him into letting them go with their loot.
President Muhammadu Buhari should not make the mistake of falling for the antics of the Avengers because that is the bobby trap they have laid for him.
If he does, other groups will mushroom and before you know it, several groups aiming for contracts will be formed and the region will descend to the former state before the launching of the amnesty programme.
“What he should do is to liaise with communities and groups who are against the Avengers, interface with them through the military and with the common front, rout the resurgent group.
They are not representing the interest of the region but trying to get attention of government and oil companies.
They want to prove to both that they are the only ones that can protect their operations so that they would have their business interests preserved.
“The mistake the president is making is that he is taking too much time in taking action.
He also must have noticed that this is not a problem military action could solve. Since the people working with the president from the region are unable to know what to do to solve the problem, new set of people who do and can engage the people to stop the spread should be brought on board to handle matters before it blooms into something uncontrollable.
The Avengers are already reaching out to people in Bayelsa and Rivers States and trying to collaborate with them.
“Niger Delta Avengers and other groups are not working in the interest of the region; their attacks are pre-meditated and for business and security contracts especially in NIMASA.
Those behind Avengers are former contractors of NIMASA who are using the information and reach at their disposal because of what they did for government to hold the entire country to ransom and bringing down oil production.
“They are showcasing their nuisance value so that they would be called for negotiation. They don’t love the Niger Delta and they are not working in the interest of the region.
If they claim to love their people, how come they collected N11 billion for the location of the Maritime University in Okerenenkoko and only declared N300 million to their community?
It is this type of free funds that has put a lot of arms with which they are embarrassing the nation together,” the group alleged.
They expressed anger over the impression that Ijaws were the only people in the Niger Delta, pointing out that from Ondo to Akwa Ibom and Cross River were part of the Niger Delta, adding that complaining of one Captain Hosa handling pipeline contracts as their grouse was misplaced.
According to them, “Captain Hosa is a Niger Delta, and even under President Goodluck Jonathan, he was handling the same jobs and we wonder why the issue of his jobs did not come up under President Jonathan”
The group further alleged that the Avengers complaining of poor funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Amnesty programme and the Niger Delta Ministry which though may be true, were afterthought which they were holding on to for higher stakes.
On the alleged support by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the group faulted the support to resort to arms, querying why the group did not resort to arms when their leader, Nnamdi Kanu was incarcerated.
They carpeted the Amnesty Coordinator, General Boroh and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which they said were supposed to rally youths to check the excesses of the Avengers.