Nigeria: Rebel Rampage Falls Short


June 19, 2009: MEND attacks on oil facilities have, in the last few weeks, halted production of about 100,000 barrels of oil a day. The increase in MEND attacks has been prompted by the military offensive against MEND camps five weeks ago. In effect, MEND has been forced to show they are still alive, or else be seen as on the run and defeated. Actually, MEND is on the run, because the government operations are interfering with the oil stealing activities that have sustained the armed gangs in the Delta. The military considers MEND  a bunch of gangsters and oil thieves. While that's true, many locals see MEND as legitimate rebels. Meanwhile, most of the military operations in the last month have been against the oil theft gang led by Government Tompolo. This guy has been responsible for more oil losses than MEND (which is basically a smaller oil theft operation with a political agenda on the side.) MEND is also a coalition of several groups, some more gangster, or more political, than the other.  The MEND attacks interrupt some of the oil shipments, but not all, and the government can live with that.

The government is trying to come up with another amnesty deal, one that most MEND members will accept. That's proved very difficult, as the rebels are making good money stealing oil, and are local heroes for calling on the government to spend more oil money where it is pumped from. The government can't really offer a better deal than the rebels already have, and it's unclear if the military are putting enough hurt on the rebels to make amnesty appear as a good deal.

The government is trying to put more pressure on China to halt the growing number of counterfeit goods being exported to Nigeria. A recent case involved a shipment of fake malaria drugs, labeled as "Made In India." Marking the drugs as "Made In China" labels is avoided, because Nigerians have already become wary of fake good from China, where the government has had little success in halting the counterfeiters. As in Nigeria, corruption is the big problem in China, as the counterfeiters pay off government officials. Diplomatic and legal pressure has forced the counterfeiters to increasingly stay away from Western nations, so they are joining the flood of goods headed for Africa.

Yet another parliamentary commission is investigating corruption, and this time has let loose accountants to audit where all the oil money has gone in the last decade (since the dictatorship was overthrown and democracy restored in 1999.) Some embarrassing details are getting out, but it remains to be seen if names will be named, along with the amounts they stole.

June 17, 2009: MEND rebels attacked a pipeline in the Niger Delta. MEND fighters were apparently encountered near the Cameroon border. In the northern city of Kano, a Ukrainian cargo aircraft landed to refuel, and police found it carrying a cargo of weapons, apparently headed for Equatorial Guinea. The aircraft was coming from Croatia, and police impounded it to double check documents (which appeared to be in order.) The police want to make sure the weapons are not really headed for Nigerian rebels or gangsters.

June 15, 2009: MEND rebels attack an oil flow station in the Niger Delta.

June 12, 2009: MEND rebels blew up an oil well and a natural gas pumping station.

June 11, 2009: MEND released a British oil worker, who had been kidnapped and held captive for nine months. The British man was held for so long as MEND was trying to get their leader out of jail in an exchange. The government refused, so MEND got tired of waiting and just let the British man go. In the Niger Delta, MEND blew up an oil pipeline.

June 9, 2009: MEND attacked a pipeline flow station in the Niger Delta, interrupting the flow of 10,000 barrels of oil a day.




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