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The Niger Delta Avengers on Saturday said the announcement by the State Security Services to the effect that some of its members were arrested was laughable.
In a statement posted on its website, the Avengers, notorious for its wanton destruction of oil and gas installations across the oil-rich region, said the SSS should grant reporters access to suspects in its custody to substantiate its claims that those arrested were members of the militant group.
The SSS had said in a statement it distributed on Friday that two members of the Avengers were arrested as a result of intensified surveillance the service recently put in place to forestall criminal activities across the country.
The statement, signed by Tony Opuiyo, also said some members of the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, as well as other criminal elements in different hideouts across the country, were also arrested in the operation which lasted throughout the month of June.
Christian ‘Sensor’ Oluba and Selky Torughedi were the two individuals with alleged ties to the Avengers who were apprehended while plotting to launch an attack on an oil installation, the SSS said.
But in the statement signed by its spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, the Avengers faulted the Director General of the SSS, Lawal Daura, for trying to fool President Muhammadu Buhari by giving him a false sense of comfort over the situation in the region.
Mr. Agbinibo said the individuals arrested were, in fact, SSS moles whom the department only arrested and labeled criminals after they demanded payment for the clandestine operations they had carried out for the country.
“The boys have the right to demand for their money from SSS, why not pay them instead of arresting and labeling them as Niger Delta Avengers members?” Mr. Agbinibo said. “If SSS are (sic) denying this, let them allow the suspects to speak to the press. We (Niger Delta Avengers) don’t have any connection with these boys. We dare the SSS to allow the boys to tell the world their side of the story.”
Mr. Agbinibo admonished security outfits to desist from “feeding” Mr. Buhari a false narrative about activities across the region, saying the war against oil vandals would not be won if they remained economical with the truth.
“SSS and Nigerian Army can’t win the Niger Delta war by feeding their President with false information about situation of things in the Region.
“It’s all good because as it seems the SSS is now having internal crisis with most of their sleeper agents and it’s a sign that God is on our side,” Mr. Agbinibo said.
The Avengers also decried Mr. Daura’s alleged indifference to the truth, saying the security chief should imbibe the teachings of his faith as a Muslim.
“This is to SSS Director Lawal Daura, this the holy month of Ramadan and as a Muslim you hold it to Allah and the Nigeria people to say the truth. Why not come out with the truth?”
Mr. Agbinibo, therefore, urged the authorities to sort out their matter with the informants, adding that Mr. Buhari should focus on more important issues in the Niger Delta.
“The Nigerian Army will never get us (Niger Delta Avengers), let them go and settle with their sleeper agents and stop deceiving the general public and their President.
“There are problem in the Niger Delta region such as underdevelopment, environmental degradation, lack of infrastructure and the issue of self-determination. These are the areas Mr. President should focus on, not arresting their allies and linking them to Niger Delta Avengers,” the Avengers said.