Quasi News and Commentary

by Wordworks2001

I have received a couple of e-mails from folks who receive my newsletter. They are asking what is happening with the militancy that began in January and prompted me to start publishing the newsletter to begin with. Well, since the unfortunate killing of a British hostage by the Nigeria Navy as they attempted to free four expatriates shortly after they were kidnapped, not a lot has been happening. I am not sure the reason for the lull because up until this incident on November 21, the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had pretty much done what they said they would and as promised, November was a bloody month.

The group, made up mostly of disenfranchised youths and young adults from the 15 million strong Ijaw tribe of the Niger Delta took Nigeria by surprise in January. That month this mysterious, but very effective band of rebels began giving the Nigerian Federal Government a run for its money. Let’s take a look at some of the events that they had a part in the first three months of the year:
JANUARY

  • Four expatriate oil field workers were abducted from the vessel they worked on. The victims were from the UK, Bulgaria, Honduras and the U.S.
  • A pipeline that fed Shell’s Forcados Terminal was ruptured by an unknown group
  • Attacks cut Shell’s production by about 220,000 barrels a day.
  • The Shell pumping facility at Beniside near Warri. Six soldiers protecting the station were killed and Shell evacuated 300 employees from the area.
  • MEND threatens to “grind the Nigerian economy to a halt,” and threatened to begin attacking inside the cities.
  • The trial of separatist leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari started in Abuja. The leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force was accused of treason and threatening to overthrow the Nigerian government.
  • MEND attacked an oil platform belonging to Italian oil company, AGIP. They were repelled by security forces.
  • Gunmen attacked the riverfront offices of AGIP in Port Harcourt. Nine people including eight policemen were killed.
  • Four hostages released in good health after 20 days.
  • Unidentified gunmen attacked a South Korean construction company at Port Harcourt.

February

  • Members of the Efiat community in the Niger Delta invaded the Tommycraig Head Oil Terminal and detained three employees for a short time.
  • The Nigerian military reported attacking eight brages used in smuggling oil. MEND claimed the Army actually attacked civilians on land.
  • MEND tells all international oil companies to leave by February 17 or face Operation Black Friday .
  • A massive fire on a Royal Dutch Shell wellhead shuts down production of 37,000 barrels of oil a day.
  • Nine expatriate workers are kidnapped from a barge near the Forcados oil facility.
  • A pipeline from Escravos to Kaduna is destroyed.
  • The Martyrs Brigade, a new militant group, threatens to attack the capitol, Abuja.

March

  • Six of nine hostages held nearly three weeks are freed on March 1. Earlier in the day MEND released their oldest hostage to date on his birthday. He was 69.
  • A demand of MEND’s was met in the removal of General Zamani from his position as commander of Nigerian forces in the Delta.
  • Militants and the military exchange fire in a fierce battle in the swamps. Seven soldiers said to have been killed but the Army refused to confirm any casualties.
  • ExxonMobil’s Qua Iboe oil terminal was blocked by several hundred Nigerians organized by a group called the Movement for the Survival of Ethnic Minorities in the Niger Delta.
  • Hostage Cody Oswald has been isolated from the other two being held. He called his wife and said he feared for his life.
  • Italian oil company, Eni, announced one of its pipelines suffered an “act of sabotage,” but did not elaborate.

Part 2 will cover militant activities in April, May and June and in Part 3 you will see what MEND was up to during the summer months of July, August and September. This fourt-part series will culminate with the most active period of militancy since the whole thing started in January. Next week, if conditions in the Niger Delta remain quiet, we will talk about the past, present and future of the Ijaws and other indigenes of the Niger Delta.

Wordworks2001 is a retired US Army master sergeant. He lives in Indiana and works in Nigeria. He blogs at Wordworks2001

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