IntroductionMap of the Niger DeltaFor quite some time, the Niger Delta has been the issue on the front pages of both local andinternational tabloids. Its either they are talking about Militants or about an exploded oil pipe lineand the accompanying inferno with disgusting pictures of indigenes that lost their lives in theinferno while scrambling to scoop petroleum products that gushed out of the exploded pipes; orit‘s the military operation carried out in some areas where the government insinuates thatMilitants are hiding; destroying properties, maiming and killing innocent and harmlessabandoned citizens of Nigeria; or stories of kidnap and abduction and so many scary news.Sometimes one wonders why these gory tales of once the seat of peace and the garden city ofNigeria and its environs continues unabated. I could remember when I was in secondary school; Iusually take some vacation jobs in Port Harcourt and believe me, Port Harcourt City was a modelof what a peaceful city should be. Today things are directly opposite to what it used to be and theinhabitants were living in fear until few months ago when the state government began somepeaceful moves to bring sanity to the City.There are some other parts of the Niger Delta that are still experiencing crises. The people thatbear the brunt are the same people who for so many decades have been abandoned in spite of thefact that they own the land where the bulk of the oil sustaining Nigeria is being tapped. To maketheir case worse, the spillage of oil by the oil companies has totally destroyed the one time arableland and even fishing which use to be one of their major occupations is no longer viable becauseof the activities of the oil companies on rigs and spillage on the sea.This is the plight of a people who are sitting on the wealth of the nation with empty stomachwhile the wealth is tapped to enrich another set of people. Its no longer news how much billionsNigeria derives from the sale of oil daily and yet these people of Niger Delta are still leaving inramshackle huts built mostly on the swamp and can hardly afford a three square meal per day.It‘s a pitiful sight – deprived of their rightful possession.Tom O‘Neill, a staff of National Geographic described the sordid situation in the Niger Delta inhis book, ‗Curse of the Black Gold‘ in these terms, ―Beyond the city, within the labyrinth ofcreeks, rivers, and pipeline channels that vein the delta—one of the worlds largest wetlands—exists a netherworld. Villages and towns cling to the banks, little more than heaps of mud-walledhuts and rusty shacks. Groups of hungry, half-naked children and sullen, idle adults wander dirtpaths. There is no electricity, no clean water, no medicine, no schools. Fishing nets hang dry;dugout canoes sit unused on muddy banks. Decades of oil spills, acid rain from gas flares, andthe stripping away of mangroves for pipelines have killed off fish.‖History and origin of the Niger Delta
The Niger Delta is situated along the South – South and South East and South West of Nigeria inWest Africa. As the name implies, it is located on the delta of the Niger River and its environsstretching from the Old Calabar Kingdom through part of the hinter land to part of the Old BeninKingdom. During the British Colonial Era, Niger Delta was known as The Oil RiversProtectorate until 1893 when its borders were expanded and renamed, The Niger CoastProtectorate. Their major occupation was Fishing and Farming especially Oil Palm productionwhich gave them the name ‗The Oil Rivers Protectorate‘.They were under the Eastern Province and later Region during the Colonial era. Several crisesbrewed up due to the marginalization of some minority groups from the then core Niger Deltans.These crises led to the agitation for Calabar – Ogoja – Rivers State which never succeeded untilduring the Nigeria Civil War when the Nigerian government as a means of destabilizing Biafra,created two states for the agitating parties thus gaining their support to unify Nigeria once more.Southeastern and Rivers States were created out of the Old Eastern Region. Southeastern Statelater renamed Cross River State which in due course was split into Cross River State and AkwaIbom State, while Rivers State was also split into Rivers State and Bayelsa State.The states that constitute the present day Niger Delta are: - Rivers State, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo,Abia, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Ondo and Cross River States. These are the major Oil producing Statesin Nigeria, beginning with the agricultural Palm Oil Produce and now the Crude Oil Production.The British were interested in the Oil Palm Produce in the Colonial eras and today the world isalso interested in the new found oil – Crude which has brought so much hardship to the NigerDeltans instead of the usual prosperity that flows on the land that hosts the Crude. A blessedpeople impoverished by the government.Discovery and exploration of oil in the Niger DeltaOil exploration started in the Niger Delta, then in the Eastern Region of Nigeria in the early1950s and the first discovery was made on the 3rd of August, 1956 in commercial quantities intertiary deposits at 12,000 feet below, in a creek town called Oloibiri near Yanogoa, the presentcapital of Bayelsa State. On February 17th, 1958, the first batch of Nigeria Crude left the bordersof the country for the international market.Nigeria eventually became the eleventh largest producer of Crude and the eight largest exporterof Crude in the world. It was also discovered that Nigeria has the largest gas reserve in Africa(about 176 trillion cubic feet) and at present, the Nigerian Oil production is running at almost2.45 million barrels per day.Many multinational and national organizations are involved in the exploration and production ofcrude in Nigeria and this has placed Nigeria on the map of the important nations in the world.The Oil fields located in the Niger Delta are 606 (355 onshore and 261 onshore) in 1500 hostcommunities. Over 6000 Oil wells have been sunk, 7000 kilometers of pipeline laid, 275 flowstations, 10 gas plants, 14 export terminals, 4 refineries and a liquefied natural gas complex.Virtually, every corner of the Niger Delta has been ransacked in the exploration of Oil and thishad brought untold hardship to the aborigines.The Niger Delta Militants Pressure continued to mount on the government tocome to the aid of the suffering Niger Deltans but the government did nothing tangible toalleviate the peoples‘ problems. The government only came up with a quack initiative ‗the Niger
Delta Development Commission‘ which became an avenue to enrich their few collaborates.When nothing seem to be done about the loss of control of their natural resources, the Ijaws ofthe Niger Delta presented their stand to the Federal government in the Kaiama Declaration in1998. The Nigeria government in response sent troops to guard the area and the resultant effectbeing the indiscriminate shooting and killing of the Niger Deltans.When pushed to the wall, the indigenes took up arms and formed militant groups to demand fortheir fair share of the proceed from the crude which is being tapped in their land. This usheredthe emergence of groups like, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta MEND,Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People and NigerDelta Vigilante etc.These groups are demanding for one thing – to take active part in the exploration andmanagement of the Crude produced in their land. So much has been damaged in the pursuance ofthis goal as the Nigeria government has refused to reason with them.The international community has done so much to persuade the Nigeria government to listen tothe request of these oppressed groups, but it wouldn‘t listen but instead drafted the army to theregion to unleash carnage on the defenseless people of Niger Delta. Pressure groups and NGOshave also done so much to assist the people of the Niger Delta who live in ramshackles on theswamps of the Niger Delta. One of the members of the militant groups once said ―there are norivers in Abuja but the government built bridges everywhere but in the Niger Delta where thereare rivers everywhere, there are no bridges‖.Timeline of activitiesSee also: Foreign hostages in Nigeria This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. You can help by converting this article to prose, if appropriate. Editing help is available. (September 2009)2006Nine officials for the Italian petrol company Eni SpA were killed when armed members ofMEND attacked Eni SpAs security forces in Port Harcourt. MEND militants briefly occupiedand robbed a bank near the Eni SpA base, leaving at about 3:30 p.m, about an hour after theyshowed up.A company official stated, "Eni has temporarily evacuated staff and contractors from the area ofthe base affected by the incident and the situation is currently under control."MEND issued a statement regarding the oil workers: "Be assured therefore that the hostages inreturn, will remain our guests... the hostages are in good health and have adapted fairly well tothe conditions under which the people of the Niger Delta have been kept."On May 10, 2006, an executive with the United States-based oil company Baker Hughes wasshot and killed in the south-eastern city of Port Harcourt. At the time of the shooting, it was not
immediately known if MEND had any involvement or not. Witnesses say the attacker appearedto be specifically targeting the US executive.On June 2, 2006 a Norwegian rig offshore Nigeria was attacked and 16 crew members werekidnapped. According to the news agency Reuters, MEND has not taken responsibility for thisattack.On August 20, 2006, 10 MEND members were killed by the Nigerian military. The memberswere working on releasing a Royal Dutch Shell hostage. In an email to REUTERS, MENDstated, "Our response to Sundays killings will come at our time, but for certain it will not gounpunished."On October 2, 2006, 10 Nigerian soldiers were killed off the shore of the Niger Delta in theirpatrol boat by a MEND mortar shell. Earlier that day a Nigerian/Royal Dutch Shell convoy wasattacked in the Port Harcourt region resulting in some people being wounded.On October 3, 2006, a militant group abducted four Scots, a Malaysian, an Indonesian and aRomanian from a bar in Akwa Ibom state.On October 4, 2006, Nigerian soldiers attacked a militant camp, in the ensuing battle 9 Nigeriansoldiers were killed.On November 22, 2006, Nigerian soldiers attempted a rescue of kidnapped oil workers whichresulted in one soldier being killed.2007On May 1, 2007, at 4:15 a.m., MEND attacked Chevrons Oloibiri floating production, storage,and offloading vessel off the coast of the southern Bayelsa state. After one hour of fighting withsecurity boats, resulting in the death of 10 people, MEND seized six expatriate workers,consisting of four Italians (Mario Celentano, Raffaele Pasceriello, Ignazio Gugliotta, AlfonsoFranza), an American (John Stapelton), and a Croat (Jurica Ruic). On the same day, MENDpublished photos of the captives seated on white plastic chairs in a wooden shelter around theremains of a campfire.On May 3, 2007, MEND seized eight foreign hostages from another offshore vessel. Thehostages were released less than 24 hours later, stating they had intended to destroy the vesseland did not want more hostages.On May 8, 2007, three major oil pipelines (one in Brass and two in the Akasa area) wereattacked, shutting down oil production and cutting power to a facility run by Italian oil companyAgip, part of the ENI energy group. An e-mail statement from a MEND spokesperson said,"Fighters of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) attacked anddestroyed three major pipelines in Bayelsa state... We will continue indefinitely with attacks onall pipelines, platforms and support vessels."
On September 23, 2007, a MEND spokesperson named Jomo Gbomo announced, through acommuniqué to the Philadelphia Independent Media Center, that media reports of his arrest anddetention were false; and then further informed, through the letter, that MEND had officiallydeclared war, effective 12 midnight, September 23, 2007, and that they would be commencing"attacks on installations and abduction of expatriates."On November 13, 2007, MEND militants attacked Cameroonian soldiers on the disputed Bakassipeninsula, killing more than 20 soldiers; three days after this incident, a southern Cameroonianrebel group claimed responsibility for the attack.2008On May 3, 2008, MEND militants attacked Shell-operated pipelines in Nigeria, forcing thecompany to halt 170,000 barrels per day (27,000 m3/d) of exports of Bonny Light crude.On June 20, 2008, MEND naval forces attacked the Shell-operated Bonga oil platform, shuttingdown 10% of Nigerias oil production in one fell swoop. The oil platform, Shells flagship projectin the area capable of extracting a massive 200,000 barrels (32,000 m3) of oil a day, was widelyassumed to be outside the reach of the militants due to its location 120 km off-shore. This attackhas demonstrated a level of prowess and sophistication never before seen by the rebels and it isnow known that all of Nigerias oil platforms are within range of MEND attack.On September 14, 2008, MEND inaugurated Operation Hurricane Barbarossa with an ongoingstring of militant attacks to bring down the oil industry in Rivers State.In September 2008, MEND released a statement proclaiming that their militants had launched an"oil war" throughout the Niger Delta against both pipelines and oil production facilities, and theNigerian soldiers that protect them. In the statement MEND claimed to have killed 22 Nigeriansoldiers in one attack against a Chevron-owned oil platform. The Nigerian governmentconfirmed that their troops were attacked in numerous locations, but said that all assaults wererepelled with the infliction of heavy casualties on the militants.On September 27, a week after declaring an oil war and destroying several significant oilproduction and transportation hubs in the delta, the group declared a ceasefire until "furthernotice" upon the intervention of Ijaw and other elders in the region.2009MEND called off its ceasefire on January 30, 2009.Equatorial Guinea blamed MEND for an attack on the presidential palace in Malabo on February17, which resulted in the death of at least one attacker. MEND denied involvement.On May 15, 2009, a military operation undertaken by a Joint Task Force (JTF) began againstMEND. It came in response to the kidnapping of Nigerian soldiers and foreign sailors in the
Delta region. Thousands of Nigerians have fled their villages and hundreds of people may bedead because of the offensive.MEND has claimed responsibility for pipeline attacks on June 18–21 on three oil installationsbelonging to Royal Dutch Shell in the Niger Delta. In a campaign labeled by the group as"Hurricane Piper Alpha", Chevron was also warned that it would "pay a price" for allowing theNigerian military use of an oil company airstrip.On June 18, MEND claimed they had blown up a Shell pipeline, as a warning to Russianpresident Dmitry Medvedev who was arriving to Nigeria the next day and to any potentialforeign investors July 6, MEND claimed responsibility for an attack on the Okan oil manifold. The pipeline wasblown up at 8:45 p.m. (3:45 p.m. ET) Sunday. The militants claim that the manifold carried some80 percent of Chevron Nigeria Limiteds off-shore crude oil to a loading platform.In a separate action on the same day, the group said that three Russians, two Filipinos and anIndian were seized Sunday from the Siehem Peace oil tanker about 20 miles (32 km) from thesouthern port city of Escravos.MEND carried out its first attack in Lagos late July 11. Rebels attacked and set on fire the AtlasCove Jetty on Tarkwa Bay, which is a major oil hub for Nigeria. Five workers were killed in thestrike.As at 17th of Oct, reliable sources stated that The Movement for the Emancipation of the NigerDelta (MEND) would resume its hostilities against the Nigerian oil industry, the Nigerian ArmedForces and its collaborators with effect from (no time specified) hours, Friday, October 16,2009," the groups spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said in the statement.Oct 25 MEND announces unilateral truce and accepts the governments proposal forreintegration.2010Jan 30: MEND called off its unilateral truce and threatened an "all-out onslaught" against the oilindustry.March 15: Two bombs exploded at a Government House of Nigeria during the Post AmnestyDialogue in Warri. The bombs killed three people and injured six more. The explosion damagedthe Government House and other buildings in the area. MEND claimed responsibility for thisattack.Main article: October 2010 Abuja attacksOctober 1: Two bombs exploded at Abuja during a parade. 12 killed 17 injured. Bomb was 1KM away from president Goodluck Jonathan. MEND claimed responsibility and also claim to
have sent warning in the form of an email to a journalist half-an-hour before the bombsdetonated.November 8: Gunmen raid an oil rig off Nigeria, kidnapping Two Americans, two Frenchmen,two Indonesians, and a Canadian. MEND claimed responsibility.November 15: MEND attack on an Exxon Mobil oil platform, kidnapping seven Nigerianworkers.November 21: The rebels say they have sabotaged an oil pipeline feeding the refinery in Warri inthe Niger Delta.2011March 16: A bomb exploded on an oil platform Agip in southern Nigeria. This is for the firstMEND attack on a major bombing campaign.[39