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New militant group debuts in Imo; threatens to shut oil wells in the state

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New militant group debuts in Imo; threatens to shut oil wells in the state

A new militant group, Niger Delta Red Squad [NDRS] has emerged in Imo State with severe threats to surpass its predecessors especially the Niger Delta Avengers.

For starters, the group threatened to attack Shell pipelines in Oguta Local Government Area and shut down all oil wells in the state.

The group expressed consternation at the exclusion of Imo state from federal government’s proposed dialogue with oil producing states in Niger Delta.

The proposed dialogue is aimed at quelling the current hostilities by Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).

It warned that until the oil producing areas in the state were given what “rightfully belongs to them”, there would be no peace for oil companies to operate in the state.

Federal lawmakers had argued that the state had been deliberately sidelined by the facilitators of the dialogue because of its youths’ disposition to peace.

They expressed worry that the exclusion might trigger militancy similar to what was happening in other Niger Delta states.

In a post on its Facebook account, NDRS said it has what it takes to carry out the threat.

NDRS warned oil companies to evacuate their workers with immediate effect.

Also, some former militants from the area have confirmed the existence of the group.

But the ex-militants denied complicity in the renewed militancy.

Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Avengers said on Tuesday it never agreed a ceasefire with the government.

The federal government had said that a one-month ceasefire had been agreed last week after talks between the oil minister, community groups and state governors in the Niger Delta, the source of most of Nigeria’s crude oil.

The militants say they want a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth to go to the impoverished Delta region. 

A petroleum ministry official said the Avengers were among those who agreed to a truce.

 “It was very difficult getting the Niger Delta Avengers to the negotiating table, but we eventually did through a proxy channel and achieved the truce,” said the official.

Another second government official also said a ceasefire was agreed.

But hours later the Avengers issued a statement on Twitter denying that it had an agreement with the government.

“The NDA High Command never remember having any agreement on ceasefire with the Nigeria government,” the group was quoted saying.

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