BY SEGUN JAMES
After what looked like an interlude, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which had been the arrow head of the agitation and violence in the Niger Delta, Monday announced that it was the mastermind of the weekend attack on the tugboat belonging to Agip Nigerian Oil Company (NOAC) and the abduction of two personnel on the waterways of Nembe in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Similar claims by the group in the past have always been dismissed as hoax by the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Polo Shield.
This is more so as the weekend’s attack was reportedly carried out by suspected pirates. The MEND statement, which was signed by it spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, reads: “The MEND confirms that the attack on a Joint Task Force (JTF) patrol boat on Saturday, January 25, 2014, in the Nembe-Bassanbiri waterways, Bayelsa State was carried out by our fighters. “This relatively insignificant attack is a reminder of our presence in the creeks of the Niger Delta and a sign of things to come. Contrary to speculations, they were not ‘sea pirates’, but a new group of MEND trainee fighters. “Our silence thus far, has been strategic and at the right time, we will reduce Nigerian oil production to zero by 2015 and drive off our land, all thieving oil companies.
“In this new phase of our struggle for justice, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) will pay considerable attention to dealing with the occupying Nigerian government forces in the Niger Delta that stand in our way.” Following the attack on their vessel by heavily armed gunmen, the abducted workers of Agip were taken to an unknown destination. Their whereabouts is still unknown, even as security operatives intensified efforts at locating them. The tugboat had six crew members at the time it was attacked by the assailants. While four were dispossessed of their valuables, the captain and the engineer were whisked away and have been held possibly for ransom.