A newly established militant group in Nigeria has threatened to blow up all oil locations in the oil-rich Niger Delta area unless oil-bloc operations are stopped within two weeks. The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) first came under the spotlight in February of this year, and vowed it would carry out attacks until the perceived marginalisation of people in the Niger Delta comes to an end.
"From our analysis above, 90% oil blocs are allocated to individuals from northern Nigeria," the group said in a statement published on its official website.
"To owners and operators of these oil blocs in our region, the Niger Delta Avengers is giving you two weeks ultimatum to shut down your operations and evacuates your staff.
"If at the end of the ultimatum you still operating, we will blow up all the locations. It will be bloody. So just shut down your operations and leave."
NDA, the latest militant organisation to wage war against the Nigerian government, has claimed responsibility for several attacks at oil-production sites across the region. In its statement it alleges to have "shut down 50% of crude production", having forced both Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell to close at least two sites in the past few weeks.
The group, which intends to start a "revolution to free Nigeria from the wicked administration", also called on the United Nations and world leaders to to pay attention to alleged crimes committed in the Niger Delta.
"We are not asking for much, but to free the people of the Niger Delta from environmental pollution, slavery and oppression. We want a country that will achieve its full potentials, a country that will make health care system accessible by everyone. With Niger Delta still under the country Nigeria, we can't make it possible. By October 2016 we will display our currency, flag, passport, our ruling council and our territory to the world."
The group also accused the government of Muhahamdu Buhari of not following the law and allowing "unlawful detentions" of innocent people like Nnamdi Kanu, one of the leaders of an ongoing movement calling for the independence of the contested Biafran territories. Kanu was arrested in Lagos in October 2015 and is standing trial on six counts of treasonable crime charges.
Buhari has accused NDA of vandalism and warned the Nigerian government will deal with NDA in the same way as it is dealing with Boko Haram terrorists in the country's north-east.
Niger Delta militants
Militant groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta region took hold in the early 2000s following the deterioration of the living conditions of people, which was due to the increase of oil-related activities by foreign exploration corporations. Tensions flared up in the local communities as some ethnic groups felt they were being exploited and did not benefit from the presence of crude oil on their land.
The repeated oil spills that considerably damaged the environment and affected people's health further deepened the communities' frustrations. After being elected in 2015, Buhari extended a 2009 amnesty granted to 30,000 former militants in the area.