/ 4 February 2010

Nigeria warns militants against violence

The Nigerian government warned Niger Delta militants on Wednesday against issuing threats of violence, saying that they did not have a “monopoly” of violence.

The militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta on Tuesday promised fresh attacks on oil facilities in the region “in the weeks to come”.

Defence Minister Godwin Abbe told journalists after a Cabinet meeting: “If they choose violence, they do not monopolise violence at all and it is an ill-wind that would blow no one any , including themselves.”

The minister also urged militants to be patient with the pace of an amnesty programme for those who have surrendered their arms.

The office of Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan separately issued a statement saying the “perceived sluggishness in the programme has … to do with the normal gestation period associated with major infrastructural projects”.

An amnesty was offered to armed rebels between August and October, leading to a period of relative calm, with authorities engaging with militants and local populations in the attempt to develop the impoverished region.

A key demand of the militants is that local communities benefit from the region’s oil wealth.

Oil is Nigeria’s economic mainstay, raking in 95% of export earnings and accounting for about 85% of budget requirements for the Opec member country. — Sapa-AFP