The Iduwini Volunteers Force (IWF) yesterday linked persistent attacks on oil pipelines and emergence of new militant groups in the Niger Delta region to the unethical and insincere activities of multinational oil companies and their local counterparts operating in the region.
The IWF, which operates from one of the richest oil blocs located in Ekeremor local government area of Bayelsa state, said though the ongoing peace talks initiated by the Federal Government to end militancy in the region is welcomed, multinationals oil companies instigate anger and violence with the divide and rule tactics among host communities.
The new militant group, which made this known in a letter to the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), also decried the unethical situation where oil companies owe local contractors who worked for them.
The group, in the letter dated September 16th, 2016, signed by its Commander, Johnson Biboye, and titled “THREAT TO LIVES OF CONTRACTORS WHO RENDERED CONTRACTUAL SERVICES TO NESTOIL PLC SINCE 2012”, specifically accused one of the oil servicing companies of owing indigenous contractors over $10million since 2012 – a situation it said sparked off armed agitation in the area.
The group said they have decided to take the case of the unpaid and suffering contractors by themselves with the belief that if they are paid, it will help some of the young men who have become foot soldiers to several militant groups a reason to discontinue their unholy alliance with violence.
The statement reads, “As our name implies, we have used our little resources and wide contacts in within the Niger Delta area in helping to ensure that peace return to the rich oil/gas region once again.
“It is in one of such moves that we discovered that an indigenous oil servicing firm NESTOIL PLC belonging to one Dr. Earnest Azudialu Obiejesi with the Exploration and Production License for OML 88, Oriri Oil Field engaged the services of more than 12 indigenous contractors with a debt profile of over $10m 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. 90% 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 from Nestoil Plc 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 days ultimatum to the said Dr. Earnest Azudialu Obiejsi, GMD NESTOIL PLC to settle all the outstanding debts as it relates to the contractors or quit all Nestoil Plc operations within the Niger Delta Region because there is no justification to come to our land, operate and cart away huge profits and yet enslave as well impoverish our people.
“Some of the companies that employed our boys and rendered services to Nestoil Plc since 2012 and have not been paid include but not limited to the following: Oando Energy, Cooper Cameron, Frigate, Saitob, Petro Dynamics, Herculus Marine, Cledop etc.
“We can assure you Sir that we will use our wide contact to prevail on the suffering indigenous workers who have not been paid not to take the laws into their hands since we have officially reported this matter to you and belief in our group’s capacity to ensure that the right thing is done.
“The Niger Delta Peace Process is a project that we are fully committed to and from time to time we are ready to update your exalted office with the true situation of things on ground”.