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Nigeria's ongoing militant issue

Written by David Rider 
June 3rd 2016
Written by David Rider
As you’re no doubt aware, the Niger Delta has been in crisis for many months.  Militants angry at changes to the amnesty programme, which ensured monthly payments in return for laying down their weapons, have been attacking oil and gas facilities at an alarming rate.


Initially, these incidents were largely dismissed by the Nigerian authorities, but an attack on an underwater pipeline focused attention on the capabilities demonstrated by the militants and their stated aims to destabalise the Nigerian economy.


The highest profile group currently operating, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), has used the internet and Twitter to spread their message. While many suggest that they are being led by former MEND commander and wanted fugitive, Tompolo, there is little evidence to confirm this. What is certain, however, is that their activities have had a dramatic effect on oil production in Delta.


While much of the surface activity surrounds the attacks, in the background, tension between the Ijaw tribe members and President Buhari, who hails from the North of the country, can’t be ignored. Previous President, Goodluck Jonathan, hailed from the Delta and has many tribal affiliations in the region. It’s believed by many that the current instability has more to do with politics than oil and poverty.


Motivations aside, the Niger Delta is also the launching point for many pirate attacks, and while there have been few successful attempts in the last few weeks, Nigerian pirates, likely to be militants themselves, have kidnapped crew for ransom at an alarming rate in 2016, adding to their war chests and making it less likely that they will be dissuaded from attacking shipping in the region.


The latest attacks by the Niger Delta Avengers occurred on Wednesday June 1st and saw two oil wells (RMP 23 and RMP 24) belonging to Chevron blown up, according to Nigerian media reports. The NDA claim to have killed 50 Nigerian soldiers in the attack, but this is unconfirmed.


While the Buhari government has pledged to put an end to militancy, the NDA and others continue to operate in the region and pose a serious threat to shipping and the O&G sector. Until they can be stopped or a peace negotiated, CSO Alliance recommends robust risk assessments be carried out and, where possible, Nigerian Navy guards employed to ensure onboard security.