Nigerian Ex-militants Call For End to Niger Delta Pipeline Attacks

May 21, 2016, 1:03 PM UTC
Nigerian Economy And Oil In Niger Delta And Port Harcourt
A man holds a pool of black oil in the palm of his hands, collected from oil pollution caused by a damaged pumping station, previously operated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, near the Ogoniland village of K-Dere, Nigeria, on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. With his security forces engaged in fighting Boko Haram's Islamist insurgency in the north, President Muhammadu Buhari can't afford renewed rebellion in the delta. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former militants have called for a halt to a resurgence of attacks on oil and gas facilities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, saying it is an unnecessary distraction for President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a group of former militants who previously targeted the oil-rich region, made the call in a statement late on Friday.

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Buhari said on Friday he had heightened the military presence in the region where attacks in the last few weeks—mostly claimed by a group calling itself the Niger Delta Avengers—have driven the country’s oil output to a more than 20-year low.

“We should give President Buhari the opportunity to fulfill his promises to the Niger Delta people by maintaining peace in the region,” former MEND members said in the statement.

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“The current resurgence of militancy is an unnecessary distraction to the current administration,” they said.

Nigeria, which relies on oil sales for 70% of national income, is going through its worst economic crisis in decades caused by low crude prices.

Former members of MEND, many of whom secured lucrative contracts to protect pipelines under an amnesty agreement, are influential, although whether this extends to those responsible for the recent attacks is not clear.