The Nigerian government and militants in the country's oil-rich Niger Delta region have reportedly agreed a 30-day ceasefire, according to local reports. It is believed the truce will give President Muhammadu Buhari time to address the demands made by the militants.

The truce was reportedly reached last week, when the minister for petroleum resources, Ibe Kachikwu, met representatives of militants, including the newly established Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) group.

Although NDA has not confirmed the truce, an anonymous source told This Day website: "You would have noticed that there have been no bombings of oil assets in recent days. This is the fallout of the 30 days of quiet reached with the minister and his team.

"This will give the president time to come up with a comprehensive plan for the Niger Delta," the source added.

The birth of militant groups in Niger Delta

Militant groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta region took hold in the early 2000s following the deterioration of people's living conditions blamed on 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 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.

It is believed the truce was reached as attacks blamed on NDA, which emerged earlier this year, forced Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell to close two plants, with the group vowing to bring the country's oil production down "to zero".

The militants last claimed responsibility for an attack on 15 June. Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, has already been negatively affected by renewed violence in the region as oil production has dropped to 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd), from 2.2m bpd.

NDA is the latest militant group to wage war against Nigeria due to perceived marginalisation in the Niger Delta.

Buhari accused the NDA of vandalism and warned that the Nigerian government would deal with the group in the same way it is tackling Boko Haram in the country's north-east.

However, earlier in June, Nigeria announced it would scale back its military presence in the Niger Delta in order to foster dialogue with militants.

After initially refusing, NDA accepted the proposition to start talks. However, the group said the federal government must meet its demands before a "genuine" dialogue can take place.

Niger Delta,
Militant groups in the Niger Delta took hold in the early 2000s following the deterioration of people's living conditions worsened by environmental problems and oil spillages blamed on foreign oil exploration companies Getty

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