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Militant group blames oil firms for Niger Delta impasse

A militant group, Iduwini Volunteers Force (IWF), has said that the unending crisis and militancy in the Niger Delta could be traced to the unholy and insincere activities of some multinationals oil companies and their local counterparts. The firms, it said, allegedly use divide and rule tactics to fan the embers of violence in the region.

Besides, the group, which operates from one of the richest oil blocks in Ekeremor Local Council of Bayelsa State, has petitioned the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Mongunu, over oil companies that have allegedly refused to pay indigenous contractors who worked for them. In another development, the Niger Delta Dialogue Group (NDDCG) led by former military Governor of Rivers State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, has expressed concern that the Federal Government was yet to set up a team to dialogue with militants in the Niger Delta.

The group stated this in a communique read by former member of the House of Representatives, Nkoyo Toyo, at the end of its third working meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday. But the Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh, said that it was not true that the government was not committed to the negotiating process with the militant groups in the region.

He said his presence and that of Senator Babafemi Ojudu, as well as representatives of the United States (U.S.), France, United Kingdom (UK), The Netherlands and the European Union (EU) at the meeting, was a clear indication that the government was committed to the resolution of the crisis.
The group added: “As our name implies, we have used our little resources and wide contacts within the Niger Delta area in helping to ensure that peace returns to the rich oil/gas region once again.

“It is in one of such moves that we discovered that an indigenous oil servicing firm with the exploration and production licence engaged the services of more than 12 indigenous contractors with a debt profile of over $10 million and deliberately refused to pay them.

“This unconscionable and wicked act was meted out to these contractors despite the successful and qualitative execution of various projects. Ninety per cent of the workforce of these companies are not only indigenes of Niger Delta but as of today, have been drafted into supporting nefarious activities that is adding to the insecurity in the Niger Delta region.”

“We took this upon ourselves to make case for these indigenous contractors, who have suffered deliberate frustration to recover their money, believing that if they are paid, some of the young men who are now foot-soldiers of several militant groups will have no cause to continue with such unholy alliance and the contractors will be free from incessant attacks from banks and other creditors.

“We do not believe in the use of violence again in resolving issues in the Niger Delta, but looking at the situation critically, we are forced to issue a 21-day ultimatum to the said oil firm to settle all outstanding debts as it relates to the contractors or quit all operations within the region because there is no justification to come to our land, operate and cart away huge profits and yet enslave as well as impoverish our people.”

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