…As Nigerian Navy releases hijacked vessel
SAN FRANCISCO, September 05, (THEWILL) – The outlawed Niger Delta militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), on Wednesday, threatened to launch an attack on the facility of American oil giant, Chevron, on October 1.
The threat came on a day the Nigerian Navy announced the release of a hijacked vessel, MT NORTE, to the owner, Orion Marine.
MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, who issued the threat in a statement, said the group was satisfied with the steady destructive progress of its ‘Hurricane Exodus’ which it launched on April 3 in protest of alleged Federal Government’s connivance with the South African Government in jailing its leader, Henry Okah.
Gbomo said MEND’s renewed attacks have succeeded in reducing Nigeria’s oil output significantly through its sustained sabotage of pipelines.
MEND therefore warned Chevron workers to leave the company’s facility,saying it would launch mortar attacks on the company on Tuesday, October 1, from 00:01hours Nigerian time.
The group said the attacks will continue until Okah, his brother Charles, and others jailed or facing trial for the 2010 Independence Day bombing in Abuja are released “unconditionally.”
Okah was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment by a South African court on March 26 over a 13- count charge bordering on terrorism, including the Independence Day attack which killed 12 persons.
The group also listed, among other demands, the resignation of Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
MEND’s statement on the imminent attack on Chevron reads: “Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta is so far satisfied with the steady destructive progress of ‘Hurricane Exodus’ which has reduced Nigeria’s oil output significantly through our sustained sabotage of pipelines.
“We will also continue to turn a blind eye to the crude oil merchants passing through our territories because their activities, apart from. toll paid us, is helping to achieve our objectives of zero oil output by 2015.
“We use this medium to advice workers at the Chevron Tank Farm in Escravos to evacuate the premises as mortar attacks are imminent on Tuesday, October 01, 2013 from 00:01 hours Nigerian time.”
It would be recalled that attacks, kidnappings and bombings of oil installations by militia groups in the Niger Delta, including MEND succeeded in reducing, by more than 28 percent, Nigeria’s oil output between 2006 and 2009.
But the violence subsided after thousands of militants accepted a government amnesty offer in 2009 and disarmed in a ‘cash for arms’ deal with the Federal Government.
The threat is coming as the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) on Wednesday said it had released the MT NORTE, a vessel hijacked by sea pirates on August 13, to the owner, Orion Marine.
The vessel and her crew were rescued on August 17 by the combined effort of five naval gunboats and NNS OBULA from the Central and Western Naval Command.
During the rescue operation, 12 out of the 16 sea pirates were allegedly killed in a gun duel while three were arrested. One was later rescued by a fishing trawler A statement signed by the Commander, NNS Delta, Commodore Mohammed Garba, and made available to newsmen in Warri said the Chief of Naval Staff had directed the release of the vessel after the NNS Delta had concluded its investigation.
The statement read; “It is pertinent to state that all investigation relating to the hijack has been concluded by NNS Delta.
“Therefore, in this regard, the Chief of Naval Staff has directed the release of the vessel to the owners with immediate effect. It is on this note that I want to formally hand over the crew and vessel to the owners, Orion Marine.’’