Yenagoa — Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) yesterday said it has destroyed an oil pipeline in southern Nigeria, in its first attack in more than a year.
A statement claiming to be from MEND, a militant group that signed an amnesty in 2009, said the attack was a reminder of their presence in the area.
Witnesses said they heard an explosion at a pipeline run by Italian firm, Eni, in Bayelsa State on Saturday night.
But the firm has not commented, and the authorities said they could not confirm that an attack had taken place.
MEND was once a feared militant group whose bombings and kidnappings paralysed the industry.
It claimed to be fighting for more rights and a share of oil wealth for local people.
Many of the group's leader's renounced violence after signing a truce with the government in 2009, and the group's last confirmed attack came in November 2010.
But a statement emailed to media outlets on Sunday said the group had "attacked and destroyed" an Eni pipeline near the Brass River.
"This relatively insignificant attack is a reminder of our presence in the creeks of the Niger Delta and a sign of things to come," the email said.
It came from an account in the name of Jomo Gbomo, a name long assumed to be an alias of MEND's leaders.
Meanwhile, Joint Military Task Force (JTF) code named Operation Pulo Shield yesterday expressed sadness over the renewed threat to peace in the Niger Delta region following the weekend attack on the Agip Trunk Line in the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, declaring that those who claimed responsibility for the attack under the cover of MEND were a fake.
Some unknown youths, suspected to be breakaway groups from the on-going Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government, weekend claimed to be members of the MEND and announced an attack on the Agip Trunk Line at about 7.30pm on Saturday 4th February.
In a statement signed by the notorious Gbomo Jomo and forwarded tour correspondent in Yaenagoa, said the attack was reminder that they still exist along the creeks and waterways of the Niger Delta region.
The group said that it has constantly warned Nigerians about Goodluck Jonathan and those running Nigeria, saying events of the last few months have vindicated their position on the inability of President Jonathan to lead Nigeria anywhere but downwards.
The purported MEND alleged that "rather than address serious issues facing the nation and its citizens, Goodluck Jonathan squanders public funds on tribalistic sycophants and thugs calling themselves ex-militants".
JTF noted with concern the claims made by the suspected militants on the attack on AGIP pipeline on 4 Feb 2012. The JTF condemns the attack in view of all that it portents for the region.
According to the statement by the coordinator of the Media Centre of the JTF, Lt. Col. Timothy Anthinga noted that "not too long ago, the Niger Delta Region was almost plunged into the abyss by agitation for the development of the region.
"The JTF observes further that the Federal Government reacted to this genuine aspiration by embarking on programmes that were aimed at addressing the human development and infra structural deficits that existed. These programmes are on going and verifiable. "
"Unfortunately, people who were never part of the agitation have emerged and want to claim amnesty and its benefits by force.
"It should be noted that it is not possible to run an inelastic amnesty programme. Consequently the JTF advises Niger Deltans to be mindful of people who are out to swindle them by wrongfully appropriating the identity of the erstwhile leadership of MEND to scurry sympathy for their selfish and criminal interest.
"The JTF calls on the good people of the Niger Delta to rise up and join security agencies to defeat the evil that is rearing its head, by giving timely and accurate information on these charlatans through the usual channels. However, the JTF warns that there could be collateral damage, if individuals and communities decide to provide sanctuary to these enemies of the society."