News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Avengers write Buhari, end oil sabotage

Niger Delta Avengers

The Niger Delta terrorist group said it has halted all hostilities and sabotage of Nigeria’s oil installations, in an open statement addressed  to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The statement  comes just over a week after the militant group said it was ready for a ceasefire and talks with the government.

Niger Delta, which produces most of the oil that makes up 70 percent of government revenue – has been hit by pipeline attacks since January which have cut Nigeria’s output by 700,000 barrels a day to 1.56 million bpd.

“We have listened carefully and halted hostilities in the Niger Delta,” said the Avengers in the statement,  on the group’s website.

“We expect a genuine and positive attitude to restructuring and self-determination for every component unit of Nigeria,” the group said.

It added that “no amount of troop surge and simulation exercises will make you win the oil war”.

The Avengers statement came on the same day that Nigeria’s military said it has ended a military exercise, codenamed Operation Crocodile Smile, in the volatile region.

At the weekend, the military  said troops killed five militants and arrested 23 others in a crackdown on criminal activities in the region.

And on Monday, the Commander, “Operation Crocodile Smile’’ of the Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. Benbella Raji,  reassured residents in the Niger Delta assurance of their safety.

Raji gave the assurance during a training to enhance the operations of the military.

The Commander, who is from the 4 Brigade, Nigerian Army in Edo, also said that the training would help to improve the security situation in the Niger Delta.

“This exercise was launched by the Chief of Army Staff a few days ago.

“Today, we move round the streets to give assurance to the good citizens of Delta, especially in Warri, that the army is here for their security.

“There are rules of engagement that guide exercises of this nature which are also meant to strengthen civil-military relations.

“As we speak, there is free medical outreach provided by the Nigerian Army near the Olu of Warri palace.

“We urge people in Niger Delta communities not to entertain any fear, we guarantee their safety,’’ he said.

The training, involved the movement of troops and equipment through Udu, Uwvie and Warri South Local Government Areas.

Some residents of Warri and its environs were apprehensive upon sighting the troops and equipment.

“Operation Crocodile Smile’’, which ended on Monday, was, however, peaceful and successful.

The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, had on Aug. 27 declared the military training open in Sapele.

Buratai said the exercise was not meant to harm anyone but to drill the officers and to also fortify security in the volatile Niger Delta region.