The main rebel group in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger River delta said it’s resuming assaults on Africa’s biggest petroleum industry after its suspected leader, Henry Okah, was imprisoned in South Africa.
The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta will start April 5 to carry out “a plague of attacks,” spokesman Jomo Gbomo said today in an e-mailed statement. “The attacks will be sustained until an unreserved apology is offered to MEND and the Nigerian government shows their willingness to dialogue.”
A South African court sentenced Okah to 24 years in jail after he was found guilty of 13 counts of terrorism, including a bombing that killed 12 people in the capital, Abuja, on Oct. 1, 2010. MEND claimed the attack. While Okah denies he leads the group, he has said he commands the support of many armed factions in Nigeria’s oil region.
Attacks including kidnappings and bombing of oil installations by groups including MEND cut more than 28 percent of Nigeria’s oil output between 2006 and 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The violence declined after thousands of fighters accepted a government amnesty offer in 2009 and disarmed.
Hague-based Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. of San Ramon, California, Total SA and Eni SpA run joint ventures with the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. that pump more than 90 percent of the nation’s oil.