Oil producing firms in the Niger Delta risk losing their investments to pre- and post-2015 election conflicts unless urgent steps are taken to avert such crises, the United States Institute for Peace, has said.
In a special report, titled: What next for security in the Niger Delta, the group said major conflict drivers were still in place in the region despite the Federal Government’s decision to grant amnesty to militants.
In the past, the region witnessed kidnappings, killings, destruction of oil pipelines and wells and loss of revenues arising from oil theft, among other problems that attracted the attention of local and international agencies.
According to the report, issues such as wavering leadership on security, the closedown of amnesty in 2015, exclusion of some militants, divisions within the oil producing communities and post-election results, among others, could lead to violence and eventual disruption of oil facilities in 2015.
It said: “Some possible triggers could have only distant ties to elections. In the run up to 2015, for instance, violence could flare around law enforcement efforts , particularly Joint Task Force (JTF) action on oil theft. During the 2000, skirmishes between soldiers and militants over stolen oil triggered a number of larger violent episodes. Some of the more financially independent groups could react badly to a crackdown on theft, not least those that have enjoyed period of impunity.”
The report said militants dissatisfied with, or excluded from the amnesty programme could launch fresh attacks before the voting day, adding that there are many splinter groups, or factions that could fuel violence based on their perceived wrong treatments by the government.
“While the amnesty has prevented some youths from committing crimes, such as kidnapping of expatriates and destruction of oil facilities among others, the programme and the complimentary initiatives have not meaningfully reduced the widespread corruption, zero-sum resource competition, under employment, local economic dysfunction, high youth unemployment, environmental degradation, lack of public accountability or criminality that fuelled past violence in the region,” the report said.
Information from The Nation was used in this report.