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Tension in Niger Delta as militants attack more facilities

Valentine Chinyem

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Suspected militants on Saturday, attacked more oil facilities in Warri South West local government area of Delta state.

Although there were speculations, that this new spate of attacks may not be unconnected with the Federal High Court injunction, ordering the arrest of the leader of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo).

Ibrahim Buba, the presiding judge, gave the order after Tompolo refused to honour court summons.

It was gathered that Saturday’s attacks were carried out in fast boats fitted with General Purpose Machine-gun (GPMG) and several frigates carrying heavily armed youths.

However, Tompolo, who incidentally hails from Warri South, has distanced himself from the attack, saying it could be a ploy which his opponents want to use to nail him.

“Tompolo had earlier raised the alarm that some people who are still aggrieved over the outcome of the Bayelsa election might resort to such act and point accusing fingers at him,” Paul Bebenibo, spokesman of the ex-militant leader, told TheCable.

“Don’t forget that Tompolo was protecting oil pipelines for the federal government and he did it very well. He was going after vandals and illegal oil dealers and so on.

“Some of these persons (oil vandals) are known members of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Who knows if such persons are behind the attack on pipelines just to hang it on him? He can’t do such a thing and would not send anybody to do so. He has even condemned the act, so it is left for the federal government to look inward.”

When asked why the attack was happening after the court order for his arrest, Bebenibo said: “This is not the first co-incidence that has happened in this world. Tompolo would not condescend so low to attack oil installations because he is being invited by the EFCC. He has nothing to do with the vandalisation of oil pipelines.”

The facilities destroyed included those of the Nigerian Gas Company, Chevron NIGERIA Limited and NECONDE among others.

Although the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta code named, Operation Pulo Shield, has said troops are combact ready to quell any crises that may occur but the militants operated unhindered for several hours on Saturday.