The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main rebel group in the area, has claimed responsibility for the killing of 12 security personnel in an attack in the southern oil-producing Bayelsa State.
Two rebels also died in last Saturday’s gunfight, which lasted for more than 40 minutes at a river in the Azuzuama area in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said in an e-mailed statement last Saturday.
The attack comes after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta warned on April 3 they would resume their operations on April 5 after its suspected leader, Henry Okah, was sentenced to 24 years in prison in South Africa.
“All oil companies and the public are advised to ignore the false sense of security,” portrayed by the security agencies, Gbomo said. “We remain resolute in our resumption of hostilities.”
The rebel group will start to carry out “a plague of attacks,” Gbomo said last week. “The attacks will be sustained until an unreserved apology is offered to MEND and the Nigerian government shows their willingness for dialogue.”
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters in Abuja has put all the five sectors of the Joint Task Force operating in the nine states of the Niger Delta on the alert following last Friday night’s attack on a convoy to Azuzuama in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State for a funeral service of an ex-militant leader’s mother.
The Director of Defence Information, Brig. Chris Olukolade, said the DHQ was monitoring developments and had issued directives to security forces to maintain the peace in the area.
He said, “The DHQ is keenly monitoring and directing the activities of forces operating there to forestall any breach to security in that region.
“At the moment, the five sectors of the JTF covering the nine states in the region are on high alert.
“Maritime and air assets of the force have also been mobilised and patrols intensified both on land and water ways. The area is being effectively dominated to checkmate any assailant.
“No form of lawlessness will be allowed to jeopardise the peace in the region. All peace loving citizens in Niger Delta are encouraged to dissociate themselves, their communities and leadership from any gang intending to disturb peace.”
The Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kingsley Omire has described the slain policemen as soft targets.
Omire, who was in a pensive mood yesterday while addressing journalists at the command’s headquarters, Yenagoa, said the boat conveying the policemen to the venue of the burial developed a fault midway into the journey.
Describing the incident as unfortunate, he said the attack had nothing to do with the threats issued by MEND.
According to him, intelligence reports showed that disgruntled elements within the fold of the ex-militant leader were the brains behind the dastardly act.
He confirmed armed attacks on police convoy by gunmen that led to the death of 12 police officers.
Omire said the corpses of the victims were yet to be recovered, and could be regarded as missing pending the outcome of ongoing search and rescue operation in the area where the incident occurred.
He admitted that the attack was launched by aggrieved ex-militants.
He named those who were missing as two inspectors, four non-commission officers, and six constables adding that a search-and-rescue operation had been intensified by divers.
According to him, “15 policemen set out on the assignment to Azuzuama; on their way, one of the boats developed engine problems. A Joint Military Task Force gun boat was moving ahead of them
“They were isolated and became soft target. Intelligence report have shown that those involved in the armed attack were hoodlums within an ex-militant group that were supposed to be enjoying amnesty”.
He stressed that the 12 declared missing were among the 15 policemen deployed to Azuzuama community, saying that high-powered investigation team headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Tuesday Asayamor has been constituted to investigate the incident.
A South African court sentenced Okah to 24 years in jail after he was found guilty of 13 counts of terrorism, including a bombing that killed 12 people in the capital, Abuja, on Oct. 1, 2010. MEND claimed the attack. While Okah denies he leads the group, he has said he commands the support of many armed factions in Nigeria’s oil region.
Attacks including kidnappings and bombing of oil installations by groups including MEND cut more than 28 percent of Nigeria’s oil output between 2006 and 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The violence declined after thousands of fighters accepted a government amnesty offer in 2009 and disarmed.
Hague-based Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil Corporatio, Chevron Corporation of San Ramon, California, Total SA of France and Eni SpA of Italy run joint ventures with state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that pump most of the country’s oil.
The West African nation was the eighth-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries last month, with output at about 1.8 million barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, fear has enveloped the Niger Delta region after unknown gunmen killed at least 12 policemen in Bayelsa State on Friday night, the day the Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta threatened to resume hostilities in the country.
Our correspondent gathered that the victims were deployed by the state police command to provide security for the funeral of the late mother of an ex-militant leader, Mr. Kile Torughedi, popularly known as Young Shall Grow.
It was learnt that Torughedi who was the commander of the South Wing of MEND from 2002 till 2009 when he embraced the amnesty for repentant militants is currently serving as the Senior Special Adviser to Governor Seriake Dickson on Marine Waterways Security.
The policemen were said to be escorting dignitaries to the wake of the deceased when gunmen attacked them.
It was learnt that 15 policemen were hired to lead the convoy of boats heading for Azuzuama in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state for the wake when the gunmen suspected to be militants reportedly ambushed them.
They were said to have been thrown off balance when the bandits opened fire on them around 9pm. A senior police officer told our correspondent that 12 of the policemen who were travelling on the same boat were killed while three dived into the water to escape the attack.
The police officer who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter insisted that only 12 policemen died in the attack.
Another security source gave a different version of how the policemen were killed saying that their boat developed a fault at the point where the gunmen attacked them.
Our correspondent gathered that the shooting that killed the policemen lasted for over 20 minutes forcing panic-stricken guests to suspend the journey.
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.
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