Friday, February 25, 2011

Nigeria militant group MEND does not exist any more: former leaders

Lagos (Platts)

Nigerian militant leaders declared Friday that the country's most prominent rebel group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, no longer exists and was not capable of unleashing any further violence on the oil and gas industry.

Eleven former warlords, who were themselves commanders of various camps of the MEND, spread across Nigeria's southern oil patch, said in a paid advertisement in the local media that other, were using the group's name to perpetuate their acts.

"We want to confirm that MEND as a structured organization operating in the Niger Delta, no longer exists," the former militant leaders stated. "We disbanded our operations following the acceptance of the offer of amnesty and institutionalization of the post-amnesty program by the federal government."

They urged the government, oil companies and the international community to disregard the recent threat purportedly issued by a spokesman for MEND under the pseudonym Jomo Gbomo, to attack oil targets in the Niger Delta, saying that it came from criminals.

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MEND was responsible for the most of the attacks on Nigeria's oil production facilities between 2006 and 2009, which cut the country's output down to around 1 million b/d from 2.6 million b/d.

The government's amnesty and unconditional pardon to militants in October 2009 saw thousands surrender their weapons, ending hostilities in the region and helped Nigeria's oil production rebound to 2.6 million b/d, according to government figures.

However, pockets of violence erupted in the region towards the end of 2010 with attacks on pipelines operated by Shell, Chevron and state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. The Niger Delta People's Liberation Front, claiming to be a faction of MEND, claimed responsibility for the attacks.


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