Controversy over alleged arrest of Niger Delta Avengers militants

Posted by News Express | 16 May 2016 | 2,772 times

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Controversy now surrounds the alleged arrest of five suspected militants said to be members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), with the Spokesman of Gbaramatu kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, rubbishing the military’s claims and insisting that the arrested men are innocent.

A Nigerian Tribune report quoted Chief Gbenekama as saying that the arrested men are not militants but Chevron staff.

“The affected staffers were said to be on a routine patrol of oil platforms on Utunama Flow Station in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State when they were picked up by the Joint Task Force (JTF),” the report said.

It added: “Scores of members of the JTF were deployed in the creeks to smoke out members of the dreaded group in the wake of the claim that they were responsible for the serial bombings of oil facilities.

“The arrested Chevron staffers, as gathered, were eventually dragged to the 19 Battalion, Nigerian Army base at Koko, in Warri North Local Government Area of the state.

“A top military source, however, denied the arrest of any member of the new militant group on Saturday.”

Chief Gbenekama, according to the report, alleged that the soldiers arrested the suspects even when they saw the inscriptions of Pipeline and Facilities Surveillance Programme (PFSP) and Chevron’s logo on their speedboats.

Tribune also quoted Chevron sources as saying that those arrested and being alleged to be members of the NDA are not militants, but casual workers on the payroll of Chevron.

“Three of the workers are from Omadino, an Itsekiri village in Warri North, while the two others are from Kokodiagbene, an Ijaw community and host to Utunana flow station in Gbaramatu kingdom,” the report said.

“Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS DELTA), Warri Naval Base, Commodore Raimi Mohammed, could not be reached as he was said to be on patrol of the creeks as of the time of filing this report, just as the state Police Public Relations Officer, Celestina Kalu, said the alleged arrest was a military affair,” the report added.

Source: News Express

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