Gunmen have abducted 15 workers of a major Nigerian oil facility in the south as unrest continues to plague the African country’s main source of revenue. A police spokesman in Rivers state said Saturday that the oil workers were on their way to the facility in Port Harcourt when they were kidnapped late on Friday.
“Fifteen oil workers, including their driver, were abducted yesterday (Friday) by unknown gunmen who hijacked their vehicle on Omoku-Elele road after shooting into the air to scare passersby,” Nnamdi Omoni said, adding that those seized were employees of Nestoil, an oil and gas service firm active in Rivers.
The official said police had launched an operation to find the gunmen and those involved in the kidnapping, adding that the bus transporting the oil workers had been recovered by the police after it was abandoned by the gunmen. “We are combing the bush and creeks in the area. Our men are all over the place. We are doing our best to rescue the victims and apprehend the kidnappers,” Omoni said.
A fresh wave of devastating attacks on Nigeria’s oil infrastructure since the start of the year has significantly affected the oil-rich country’s output. Reports say Abuja has lost a third of its oil income as a result of the militancy affecting its oil facilities, which has created serious financial problems for the government. Nigeria relies on oil for more than 70 percent of its revenues.
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) group, known for its attacks on Nigeria’s oil installations, announced two weeks ago that it was ready for a ceasefire with the government. A second group, identifying itself as the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM), has also carried out some high-profile attacks on the state-owned pipeline in the recent past.