Quasi-News & Commentary

by Wordworks2001

October began just as September. It was quiet. Quiet? It was as if the militants went in to hibernation or were all AWOL. But was this only the calm before the storm? Expatriate workers and residents of the oil producing areas of Nigeria waited for the next kidnapping.

There was a lot happening in the country. Torrential rains in the north caused a dam to burst in Zamfara State. At least 500 homes were lost, but gratefully, no deaths.

The vice president, Atiku Abubakar, was suspended from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for allegedly planning the murders of several high ranking government officials. Abubakar denied all the allegations, saying it was further evidence of President Obasanjo’s attempts to derail his bid for the presidency.

Yet another governor, Ayo Fayose and his deputy, of Ekiti State were served with impeachment notices, adding them to the list of more than 30 state governors either indicted or under investigation by the federal Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. There are 36 states in Nigeria.

That is what happened in Nigeria on October 1st. The rest of the month, the publicity belonged to the militants.

October

  • On October 2, armed militants in 5 speedboats, attacked a Shell diesel convoy between Bille/Krakama and Sambreiro River. The convoy of boats was supplying oil fields operated by Shell in Rivers state and was protected by 15 Nigerian military personnel. The Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC) comprising NDPVF, MEND & The Martyrs Brigade took responibility. Five soldiers were killed and 24 Shell employees were taken hostage. Two military vessels were sunk and nine soldiers were missing. The hostages were held two days.
  • On the 3rd, militants attacked Nancy’s Bar inside the Bristow Aviation expatriate compound in Eket. They killed the two gate guards and went into the camp to the bar that lies about 50m back from the gate, inside the camp. The bar is directly visible from the gate. Due to the security situation foreign workers had been using it as a safer option that the Eket town bars. They were taken on an eight hour boatride to a camp in the swamps. Their number totalled seven (4 Brits (3 Sparrows, 1 Oceaneering), 1 Romanian (Nautalis), 1 Malasian (Bristows), 1 Indonesian (Bristows)). They were held 18 days. The Niger Delta Frontier Force (NDFF) took credit.
  • The next day, the Ekulama 1 Flow Station attacked and vessels raked by gunfire. The facilities suffered some damage (suction header, surge vessel, water tanks & station attendant’s hut ). A small quantity of crude oil was spilled in the environment. The attack was credited to MEND.
  • Again on the 4th, militants attacked vessels ferrying supplies to an AGIP facility near the Brass River. A fire fight ensued with fatalites on both sides. All were workers from various Agip contracting companies. The JRC took responsibility.
  • On October 10th, Youths from Oporoma in Bayelsa State invaded the Shell Field Logistics Base attacked to the Nun River Flowstation. The attackers fired warning shots and took control of the security post, where they held some Shell staff and Contractors hostage. The seige lasted two days.
  • On the 18th, militants stormed the fields located in Warri North Local Government Area of Bayelsa State in speed boats to abduct the workers. The militants also intended to stop work on the well-head which was vandalised in the wake of the crisis in the oil industry in the region in February. It was reported the gun-wielding youths who were apparently unaware of the presence of the troops nearby, ordered the suspension of the repair work on the basis that it was not authorized by them. Thereafter, the militants reportedly picked out three expatriates and ordered them into one of their speed boats when the troops confronted them. A fire fight ensued between them. The militants eventually gave in to the superior fire power of the soldiers and fled the scene.

November

  • Two expatriates on the Norwegian barge MT Commander, en-route to Escravos, were abducted in an early morning raid on barge by men in speed boats. They were held six days. The American and British hostages released to the Coordinator of Bayelsa State government-owned security outfit, the Bayelsa Volunteers. Chief Benamesia said no ransom was paid to the militants, but a source close to the Ijaw youths revealed that an undisclosed amount of money was made available to the militants before the release.
  • On the 6th, youths from two Ijaw communities in Bayelsa State, invaded the Tebidadaoil flow-station. The flow station was located between both communities. The youths attacked in a commando operation that caught soldiers on guard duties on the facility unaware.
  • On the 11th the Clough Creek Flow Station was invaded, youths took staff hostage and seized a military houseboat.
  • 20 miles east of Bonny Fairway bouy, the supply vessel, ‘Surf Viking’,working for Exxon Mobil, came under machine gun fire from a canoe while under slow speed. It sustained two bullets holes in the superstructure.
  • On November 15th, 11 men attacked the Oporoma flow station to try to shut down the facility. Naval forces pushed back the men, and two of the assailants were killed in the fighting and one was captured.
  • The last act of the militants occurred on the 21st of November on the Mystras – a floating platform storage offloading (FPSO) at the Okono/Okpono field that is owned by SBM. It is 30 miles offshore from Bonny Island. Ten armed men attacked the facility and took seven people away on a speedboat – nearly all those on the vessel were held at gunpoint for a period before the attackers left with the seven captives. The hostages were comprised of one Italian, one Filipino, two Finns, one Brit, one Pole, and one Romanian. The full picture of what actually occurred is still to come out. Either a rescue attempt or an escorted supply convoy happened to run into militants with hostages moving into the swamps. In the exchange of gun fire the Briton was killed & the Italian was seriously injured. One soldier & two of the hostage takers were also killed.

Today is December 6. There has been no militant action since the killing of Mr. Hunt on November 21. We don’t know if they are regrouping or reassessing strategies. The only thing we know for sure, the conditions that caused them to exist in the first place have not been resolved.

Wordworks2001 is a retired US Army master sergeant who lives in Indiana and works in Nigeria. He blogs at http://wordworks2001.blogspot.com.

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