The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) has called off its ceasefire, the group said in a statement on November 3, and restarting its campaign “Operation Red Economy”. The statement seemed as focused on settling scores with rival groups as it was in issuing threats.
The group warned oil companies that, unlike the 2016 campaign, the next wave of violence would be “brutish, brutal and bloody”, going to say it would extinguish all gas flares and “cut every pipe that moves crude away from our region”.
The NDA went on to single out the Egina floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, saying “God willing it shall not operate successfully”. The group has proved to be capable of well-planned sabotage onshore and in the shallow-waters, but Egina – which will be 130 km offshore and in water depths of more than 1,500 metres – would be a challenge for any assault.
Media reports on November 2 said the FPSO had begun its journey from South Korea to Nigeria.
The NDA’s message began by warning onlookers of “fraudsters” who were seeking to use the NDA’s name as a “money making tool … in connivance with top government functionaries”. The rival Reformed NDA is jeopardising the sincere efforts of the Niger Delta people, it continued.
The statement went on to issue a warning to Government Ekpemupolo – known as Tompolo – a former militant leader who is wanted by the government. The NDA said its earlier decision to halt its campaign had not been a result of Tompolo’s threats to the group. “We invite you [Tompolo] to come after us with your total force as we are no longer ready to heed uninspiring advice from you or anyone else in the Niger Delta region,” it said.
The NDA finished its statement by saying it was “not the same as the toothless and cowardly” Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
While the threat should be taken seriously, there are a number of factors that should be borne in mind when reading the NDA’s warnings. As the oil price goes up, the loss of earnings that might come from sabotage will force the attention of the government. The NDA gained a seat at the table through its ability to impede oil shipments but to retain this it must affirm its claim, by issuing demands and disparaging rival groups.