Written by Osa Okhomina Yenagoa
October 05, 2008
TEST Hundreds of suspected militants have been arrested by security forces in the Niger Delta region, a military spokesman said yesterday in Warri, Delta State.
Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa said 443 suspects were detained in military raids that began last week after the militants ended a string of attacks and declared a ceasefire September 21.
The recent spike in militant activity was the worst to hit Africa's oil giant in years.
The state oil company said daily production is now down about 40 per cent from Nigeria's normal daily output of 2.5 million barrels, helping send crude prices to historical heights this year in international markets.
The militant group emerged about three years ago, calling for more federally controlled oil-industry revenue to flow to the impoverished southern states where the petroleum is produced.
The military has arrested more than 400 suspected militants following a spate of attacks in the restive southern oil region, an official said Tuesday.
Musa said the raids in the area surrounding the oil hub of Port Harcourt were prompted by intelligence reports that the insurgents were launching a recruitment drive to replace heavy losses suffered in their recent six-day campaign.
Many of the suspects were released following questioning but some are being held in prison awaiting trial, he said.
The recent spike in militant activity was the worst in years in Nigeria. The country's most potent militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, declared a unilateral ceasefire September 21.
The group, which is a loose alliance of various armed gangs operating in the southern Niger Delta, attacked military positions, destroyed pipeline-switching stations and blew up pipelines that carry crude from wells to export terminals in southern Nigeria.