Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Despite the overtures of amnesty granted by the Nigerian government, the oil war that was sparked earlier this years has taken on a whole new dimension.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) blew up the Atlas Cove Jetty, a loading dock for oil tankers, in Lagos State on Sunday, July 12th. The attack lasted over 3 hours and has effectively crippled the capacity of the facility to receive petroleum products. It happened just as MEND leader, Henry Okay, was granted amnesty and released by the Federal Government.

Destroyed Receptor pipeline for refined petroleum products at the Atlas Cove Jetty which is responsible for 35% of the nations daily consumption of petroleum products. 
Actual images of the destruction; Source: Vanguard Newspaper (NG) Online

Clearly, MEND chose to keep its threat of taking the oil war beyond the shores of the Niger Delta. By attacking an oil facility in Lagos State, the boundaries of the oil war have clearly been expanded suggesting that no part of the country is safe from an attack. MEND traditionally limited  its attacks to oil installations in states comprising the Niger Delta region.
Mangled pipelines at the Atlas Cove Jetty, in Lagos, bombed by men of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Sunday. Photo: Sylva Eleanya.

According to the Vanguard Newspaper, the "Atlas Cove jetty is the major petroleum products supply and distribution facility that takes petroleum products ... from ocean-going vessels and distributes ... to ... depots in South West Nigeria." As a consequence, this attack could spell a return to oil shortages and possibly affect already epileptic electricity generation which, in certain parts of the country, depends on oil. Although the jetty supplies 35% of the nation's oil supply, the NNPC has declared that contingency plans are in place to ensure that this attack does not disrupt oil supply to citizens.
Destroyed Receptor pipeline for refined petroleum products at the Atlas Cove Jetty which is responsible for 35% of the nations daily consumption of petroleum products by MEND

But, the most significant consequence of this attack are the individuals who lost their lives and the families they have left behind. 5 individuals lost their lives in the dynamite ignited explosions and resulting fires. One of the Naval officers killed is a husband and father of 3 young children. Did he deserve to be shot and have his body burned in the impending chaos? This begs the question of whether or not this continued fighting by all parties in this oil war is worth it and when exactly it will come to an end. The reality is that although MEND has clarified that it aims to cripple oil installations so as to weaken the government and the oil industry, the overwhelming victims of MEND activities continue to be ordinary citizens and their dependents. The people whose decisions have harmed those that MEND claims to fight on behalf of, are far from affected by MEND's actions. While this statement is not an effort to incite attacks on any specific group of people, it is definitely a reflection of reality and an attempt to force a re-evaluation of the measures taken by all sides in this continuing cycle of violence, corruption and waste of life.

Further Reading:
- War In the Niger Delta
- No Longer King of African Crude?
- The Global Food Crises, Nigeria & MEND
- Port Harcourt & Nigeria Under Siege
- Is Nigeria A Breeding Ground for Terrorism?

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Unknown said...

They had this coming.

N.I.M.M.O said...

Most of what happens everywhere -whether in the Niger Delta or elsewhere- seem so far away until it hits home close by.

This attack on Atlas Cove by MEND will probably make more people feel the impact of their activities but then, expect more serious hostilities. Remember, there was no armistice before the amnesty.

I just learnt a few hours ago that one of the dead is someone close to the family. Its unfortunate.

Dee said...

I saw it coming…they got bolder and louder. It was only a matter of time…like NIMMO said, it seemed so far away until it hits close to home…sooooo close

This attack killed a very close family friend, I still can’t believe it

I don’t think the average Nigerian really understands the Who, What and Why of M.E.N.D.

If they really did, I don’t think this war would have festered this long. They’ll notice the looming fuel shortage for sure…then again, it’s rather normal in the everyday Nigerian life to have petrol shortages

Maybe we all should stop and ask ourselves as a Nation that which we refused to notice: THERE IS A WAR in our very backyard!

Does it have to kill our loved ones before we see the doom on our ‘doormot’?

Beauty said...

"This begs the question of whether or not this continued fighting by all parties in this oil war is worth it and when exactly it will come to an end." The is so much cash involved that the people that benefits from this war need it. AFRICOM? High tech intel as a way of exposing exactly what is going on in the oil bunkering tuff war a solution?


@ OZ: nice to see you. In actuality, you came to mind when I heard about this situation. I believe we had spoken in depth about this possibility way back in '07. It seems that our worst fears have been actualized.

Hope all is well with your family and yourself.

@ N.I.M.M.O.: Despite its size, Lagos is 'small'. When something like this happens, you are bound to be affected.

I wonder how this attack in a city that has been working frivolously to distinguish itself from much of the problematic aspects of Nigeria, will transform the situation. Good or bad?

Take care and please stay safe.

@ Dee: So sorry for your loss, my sista. You are right, far too many of us refuse to see this for what it is. N.I.M.M.O. wrote a good post recently stating prominently that this is not a fight, it is a war. Like many, I have been watching this thing escalate and when I speak to elders they all say the same thing ... this looks like a run up to the civil war - the distrust, the indiscriminate killing, the use of Nigeria's military to attack citizens (be they MEND militants or otherwise).

Maybe this will force our eyes to open, but I don't think this is the straw to break the camel's back, unfortunately.

@ Beauty: The US military has been in Nigeria's waters for a long time and working with Nigeria's military. Like you said the money being made and the influence/power being garnered by some (Nigerians and foreigners) means that bringing this battle to an end is more complicated than many of us, myself included, can imagine. News reports suggest that MEND's operation at the jetty was highly organized and suggested that they had serious intelligence about the facilities operations.

Who's pulling the strings on either sides?

Time will tell.

webround said...

the other side of the coin could be that with this attack, more people may end up having negative opinions about MEND and their goals. nothing makes one change his mind faster than when you suddenly become personally involved.

Anonymous said...

You already know my feelings about MEND. At this point, i wonder what their objectives are. And i wonder what it would take to turn this situation around. A civil war is not the way forward for the Niger Delta or the country. I doubt that the fed govt, state govts, militants and community leaders entangled in this fight really realise this point. It seems some parties still think that there is a victory to be had here.

FIGE said...

OMG....after i had typed all my thoughts... i clicked post and the page went blank. well let me see if i can get all back. i think MEND has lost touch with the objectives of the strugle...i was begining to think,i could understand thier reasons for doing all they had been doing...but now i cannot fathom. my Grand Father wonders if, Aso Rock, Fedral house of assemblies, State Assemblies would be the next target. Which ever happens next, we are all going to have wait for the event to unfold( thats all we do, WAIT.....aint in?) CIVIL WAR, lets not go there, i know it close, but not close enough for NIGERIANS to worry about.

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Anonymous said...

I would suggest, that MEND seems to be more about causing disruption than actually attempting to solve any real problems. The case of the TOMPOLO revelations come to mind. My personal opinion is that there are interests in the Nigerian political arena who favor the disruption that MEND activities portend!


Spesh said...

I am bit short of words.....
This is a serious problem on our hands and the fed govt is continually making a mockery of our intelligence.....

Anonymous said...

I am just surprised it has taken this long for MEND to attack a Lagos facility and just waiting for one in Abuja. Things will get worse and more innocents will die. You use the words "oil wars" and that is exactly what this is but I doubt the majority of Nigerians have figured that out yet.

My issue with MEND is twofold. First they may be making some small impact in the immediate but the government is still busy making oil deals with Russia and China so clearly MEND is not seen as an obstacle.

Secondly without a parallel political agenda I dont see these attacks making sufficient impact to change the status quo. There are also so many groups - some criminals, some militants - how and who can bring them all under one umbrella? And it goes on.

FIGE said...

@sokari: Do you think the attacks are just?

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