Armed youths believed to be loyalists of leader of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), Saturday attacked oil facilities in the Niger Delta region of the country.
According to reports, the attacks were carried out in fast boats fitted with General Purpose Machine-gun (GPMG) and several frigates carrying heavily armed youths.
Oil and gas pipelines in the creeks of Delta State’s Gbaramatu and Ugborodo areas of Warri South West and those in Egbema, North local government areas respectively, were affected in Saturday’s attacks.
“The gas pipeline which from Olero creeks to Escravos were destroyed in the latest attack. Several crude lines were sabotaged while Makaraba, Otunana (Uton-Nana), Abiteye and Dibi flow stations were bomb,” The Nation quoted a source to have said.
“The pipeline, which conveys gas from Saghara to Chevron was also destroyed and there are several persons trapped in the communities.
“The kind of explosives and bombs they used are not like those of before; the effects were felt in several communities as they went off intermittently,” the source said.
The facilities destroyed included those of the Nigerian Gas Company, Chevron NIGERIA Limited and NECONDE among others.
The incident came after Saturday’s attack on a strategic gas trunk line around Warri River on Friday morning, barely 10 hours after a Federal High Court ordered the arrest of Tompolo in connection with an ongoing N34 billion fraud case at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Meanwhile, Tompolo has denied connections with the attack. His Ijaw kinsmen in Warri area of Delta state have also accused enemies of the former MEND leader of trying to smear his name by embarking on destruction of oil facilities in Delta state.
“The government should make peace with Tompolo so that he will be of great help to the government in managing such situations as well as not to allow the matter to lead to resumption of hostilities in the Niger Delta,” the Warri Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group, in a statement by its chairman, Chief Patrick Bigha.
“Mind you,Tompolo is a force to reckon with, in terms of peace building in the Niger Delta region,” the statement added.
“It is worthy of note that Tompolo will not embark on such self destructive mission as one that fervently believes in the Nigeria project, and has contributed to peace building and development of Nigeria.”
“It could be recalled that it was this same Tompolo that was protecting oil facilities in the Niger Delta even though he was not paid for doing that and so could not turn around to be one that is destroying oil facilities.
“And as he was doing that he stepped on many powerful toes and such people were not and still not happy with him. Therefore such people can carry out this act and point accusing fingers on him because of the present condition he find himself in.
“There is urgent need for the Federal Government to look inward as some APC chieftains may likely be involved in this incident as some of them have been involved in such acts in the past,” the group said.