Niger Delta militants have claimed an attack on a gas pipeline in protest at upcoming talks between the Nigerian government and leaders from the oil-producing south.
In a statement, the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate group said it would not support the talks being held by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and representatives from the Niger Delta to end the oil infrastructure sabotage.
Attacks on pipelines by militant groups have slashed Nigeria’s oil production helping to tip the country into recession as it struggles to adapt to the low price of crude globally.
“...in furtherance of the Operation Hammurabi Code, our Akuma strike team struck and brought down the 32-inch Effurun-Otor delivery line,” the militant group’s spokesman Aldo Agbalaja in a statement.
“This is not ending soon, we shall fulfil our promise of uprooting your entire assets in our land.”
The Effurun-Otor pipeline feeds the Utorogu gas plant that powers Lagos, a megacity of around 20 million people.
The militants dismissed the forthcoming talks in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Tuesday, saying they would “never get our support.”
“Like we said before now, the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate is not opposed to a genuine dialogue between the federal government and real representatives of the various nations of our region,” said the statement.
“We are collecting names from the nations in the region, those who will sincerely and equitably represent our various peoples.”
A security source confirmed the attack. “Yes, a pipeline conveying products to the Utorogu gas plant was attacked by some hoodlums,” a Department of State Security official said.
Divisions between rival militant groups will make it hard for the Nigerian government to strike a lasting peace deal.
A 2009 amnesty deal with militants helped end sabotage in the oil-producing southern swamplands, but the violence reignited after Buhari’s cash-strapped government temporarily ended amnesty payments and arrested a prominent ex-militant for corruption.
The resource-rich region has continuously been suffering production delines due to the ongoing strife.