The joint task force (JTF) in the Niger Delta claimed on Sunday that some members of the Niger Delta Avengers who recently launched attacks on Chevron pipelines in the Niger Delta.
But members of the community are faulting the claim, saying that those arrested were Chevron staff who were on patrol of oil facilities along the Utunana flow station in Warri South West local government area of Delta state.
They were identified as Kelvin Mordi, Samuel Emiko, Henry Arogboritse, Isaac Edemde, and Alfred Timede.
They are currently being detained at a military base in Warri north local government area.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, said on Sunday:
“This is to confirm the arrest of some suspected members of Niger Delta Avengers. Investigation is currently on going”
But it was gathered that the oil firm, which has suffered different attacks in recent times, reportedly employed the detainees as surveillance guards for its installations in the creek.
Godspower Gbenekama, spokesman of Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri south west, condemned the arrest, demanding the immediate release of the suspects.
He said the military had been intimidating youths of the community.
TheCable quoted him as saying:
“The soldiers arrested them in a speed boat, which had the inscription of Chevron. They had their identity cards on. So, there is no case of mistaken identity. Far from it.
“After their arrest, the soldiers moved to different communities and started harassing our people. They invaded buildings and tortured youths just to coerce them to accept membership of militant groups.
“Their tactics will not work. We demand the immediate release of our innocent boys, and ask the military to stop this intimidation.”
However, efforts made to reach Victor Anyaegbudike, an official of Chevron, were not successful, as his mobile telephone was out of reach, TheCable reports. Isa Ado, spokesman of JTF, also did not respond to calls, and the SMS sent to his telephone is still awaiting response.
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), a new militant group, has claimed responsibility for recent attacks, threatening to hit Chevron Nigeria headquarters in Lekki, Lagos, if the organisation repairs pipelines that had been destroyed.