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Blame military, contractors – Community leader

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FOR the second time in a week, suspected militants, on Tuesday, bombed another oil pipeline operated by the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) in Warri, Delta State.

But a senior officer with Operation Delta Safe (ODS), on Tuesday, told Tribune Online that it was dredging equipment that was attacked during the attack and not an oil pipeline as reported.

“Not a pipeline, it was dredging equipment that was damaged, “the evasive officer insisted on phone.

The pipeline, as gathered, receives crude from the Batan flow station and feeds the Forcados Export Terminal, Burutu Local Government Area.

Chairman of Batan, Dickson Ogugu, was quoted by AFP as saying “The line, which was undergoing repair after the previous attack … was billed for commissioning either today or tomorrow,” before it was attacked on Tuesday.

Ogugu was reported to have said that four surveillance guards deployed to protect the Trans Forcados export line escaped death by the whiskers after the militants opened fire on them.

“The hoodlums after chasing them from the spot came down from their speedboat, planted dynamite on swamp boogie, barge, crane and on the line.

“Unfortunately, only the dynamite on the barge exploded and immediately sank into the water. As I speak to you, the military are at the scene of the incident trying to dismantle the other dynamites,” Ogugu noted.

AFP also reported that an army officer confirmed the incident, adding that “We heard the shots in the middle of the night, but as you know, we do not patrol the area at night, so there was nothing we could do.”

However, a community leader at Ogulagha, told Tribune Online on Tuesday on phone that the attack was carried out in Batan, which he said was far from his community.

A naval officer with Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS DELTA), who requested his name be shielded, denied knowledge of the attack, but promised to get back after his findings.

Meanwhile, a community leader and acting secretary of the Gbaramatu Traditional Council, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, while speaking on the situation said it was shocking that in spite of the presence several houseboats in Batan community, saboteurs could still carry out their nefarious activities unhindered.

On whether the renewed attacks could scuttle the ongoing parley between the Federal Government and the Pan Niger Delta Forum, which he’s part of, Gbenekama said “It won’t because that place is a small place, and the army have a lot of houseboats loaded with military personnel.

Except the army are culpable if not nobody can penetrate that area.

It depends on who is bombing? Is it the agitators or NNPC contractors?” he queried rhetorically.

It’ll be recalled that last week, the Forcados export line was bombed few hours after President Muhammadu Buhari met with PANDEF where 16 demands were presented as a way out of the imbroglio.

As of the time of filing this report, no militant group has claimed responsibility for the alleged attack amid recent threats from members of the distraught Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) because of their aversion to the PANDEF and FG parley last week.