As the Nigerian authorities continue to grapple with the onslaught of Niger Delta Avengers, a new militant group known as the ‘Red Scorpion’ has emerged in Imo State with a threat to frustrate operations of oil companies in the state.
The group, which claimed responsibility for the blowing up of two pipelines belonging to Elf Oil Company in Awara area in Ohaji/Egbema LGA, also threatened to attack pipelines belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, in Oguta Local Government Area as well as shut down all oil wells across the state.
The group’s threat is coming barely two weeks after lawmakers of the Imo State House of Assembly queried the exclusion of the state from the federal government’s proposed dialogue with oil producing states in the Niger Delta region with a view to quelling the current hostilities rocking the oil-rich region.
The lawmakers had expressed worry that such exclusion might spark off militancy and aggravate the prevailing tension in the region.
In one of their online postings yesterday, the group boasted that it had what it takes to carry out their threat to disrupt oil exploration in the area, and warned that “until the oil producing areas in the state are given what rightfully belongs to them, the area will no longer be peaceful for oil companies to operate.”
The group further warned all oil companies operating in the state to evacuate their workers with immediate effect or “face the wrath of the boys.”
Peace deal with Avengers yielding results – Barkindo
Meanwhile, Mohammed Barkindo, newly appointed secretary-general of the Organisation of Petroleum Countries, OPEC, says the decision of the federal government to negotiate with militants has brought about peace in the region.
Speaking with state house correspondents at the end of a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari according to online newspaper TheCable, Barkindo said though he would not want to pre-empt government’s action to resolve the crisis, it is clear that the decision has been yielding positive results.
“For me based on my own experience here, the option of carrot and stick as they call it I think is the way forward,” he said.
“Government I understand is negotiating, and we are beginning to see positive results. So, I don’t think it will be proper to pre-empt these discussions that are being handled by Dr. Kachukwu (minister of state for petroleum), but I remain confident that through these negotiations, stable and permanent solutions will be found to this problem.”
He described the Niger Delta region is very important to the country, saying government should be encouraged to sustain peace.
“The Niger Delta region is a very important part of our country and whatever we can do to address the challenges of development I think is the way forward,” he said.
“I have been told that production is beginning to rise again, so for us in OPEC this is the first thing we look at, how much is a member country producing. When we saw that production was falling in Nigeria as a result of recent challenges, the international community, the market also took note of that. But now I think things are beginning to come back to normalcy and I have seen some of your reports that are also very positive.”
Barkindo also thanked Buhari and Kachikwu for the roles they played in his emergence.
Barkindo is the third Nigerian to be elected the secretary-general of OPEC. The deceased Micheal Feyide and Rilwanu Lukman, have occupied the position in the past.