The Nigerian military is asking all foreign and local oil workers in the country’s volatile Niger Delta region to disregard the latest threat from the region’s main armed group.
In an email statement, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta or MEND said it was standing firm on its 72-hour ultimatum to local and foreign oil workers to leave the region or face the fury of what MEND called Hurricane Piper Alpha.
ultimatum expires around midnight Monday.
Colonel Rabe Abubakar, spokesman for the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, said the JTF is ready and capable to crush MEND once and for all.
“My reaction has always been known that MEND is an organization which should not be taken seriously. Secondly, I ask all oil workers, both our foreign friends and the local workers to disregard whatever threat MEND might have passed out,” he said.
Abubakar described MEND as a faceless organization and said the JTF was out in force to protect all oil workers.
“As I’m talking to you, JTF and other security agencies are all over the place…we are ready more than ever before to crush any group no matter where it comes from,” Abubakar said.
MEND compared its latest threat to a hurricane which it said does not discriminate when it hits.
But Abubakar said MEND is a toothless organization that has made repeated threats before but incapable of carrying out such threats.
“This is not the first time…however, I’m advising the foreigners and the local workers that they should be security-conscious, and they should report any suspicious persons to the nearest security agency or JTF,” Abubakar said.
He said the JTF has mapped out a strategy to protect all oil facilities and workers. But Abubakar said workers should always be security-conscious.
Some civil society organizations have accused the Nigerian military of rights abuses during its weeks-long Niger Delta offensive.
But Abubakar said it’s a smear campaign to say that the Joint Task Force has deliberately been involved in human rights abuses. He said the JTF has been extremely careful in the conduct of its Niger Delta offensive.