The Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), on Monday claimed that it was responsible for the attack on a tugboat belonging to the Agip Nigerian Oil Company (NAOC).
MEND in a statement signed by its spokesman, Gbomo Jomo, also admitted that its fighters abducted the engineer and the captain of the boat, adding that the onslaught was carried out by some of its trainee fighters along the Nembe-Bassanbiri waterways in Bayelsa State.
“This relatively insignificant attack is a reminder of our presence in the creeks of the Niger Delta and a sign of things to come. Contrary to speculations, they were not ‘sea pirates’, but a new group of MEND ‘Trainee fighters.
“Our silence thus far, has been strategic and at the right time, we will reduce Nigerian oil production to zero by 2015 and drive off our land, all thieving oil companies.
“In this new phase of our struggle for justice, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) will pay considerable attention to dealing with the occupying Nigerian government forces in the Niger Delta that stand in our way,” MEND said in the statement.
Gunmen numbering seven had on Saturday attacked a tugboat belonging to Agip and whisked away an engineer and a captain of the vessel.
“They took them to an unknown place. Nobody has been able to know their whereabouts,” a security source said.
The source who pleaded anonymity said the incident occurred at an area known as Peter’s town in Nembe Local Government Area, Bayelsa State.
“The tugboat was coming from Port Harcourt in Rivers State to Brass maybe to load petroleum product at the terminal.
But suddenly, gunmen who were about seven in number double-crossed it and boarded it,” he said, adding that the boat had about six crew members at the time it was stormed by the hoodlums.
While four others were dispossessed of their valuables, the captain and the engineer were reportedly whisked away for ransom.