Nigeria army claims top Delta militant nabbed
Romeo was captured in a cross-military operation over the weekend that included the Nigerian army, navy, air force and intelligence services, the army said in a statement.
“[We] arrested a suspected kingpin of the Niger Delta Avengers, Isaac Romeo […] in their terrorists camp,” the army said in a statement on their website.
“The arrest followed painstaking efforts and tracking of the militant who was in the state to perpetrate further criminal activities of sabotaging critical infrastructures,” it added.
The Niger Delta Avengers have cut oil production in Nigeria by as much as 70,000 barrels per day, according to government estimates.
The suspected militant leader was apprehended in Calabar, capital of Cross River state, along with two more suspected members of the insurgency, Lawson Samson and Iyang Ekp, the military said. A fourth man was arrested in Edo state on suspicion of attacked state-owned oil facilities, it added.
Last month, the government signed a ceasefire deal with the Niger Delta Avengers, but other groups are still disrupting oil production in the region.
Nigerian politicians have bemoaned the impact of prolonged militant insurgencies in the region on the passing of the petroleum industry bill, a long-awaited piece of legislation aimed at reforming the graft-prone sector.
“We have to hold [the bill] because of all the problems in the Niger Delta,” Senator Tayo Alasoadura, chairman of the committee on petroleum resources, told Reuters. “As soon as things improve, then it will come to the front of the line again.”
Although that may not help bump up the price of crude oil – still currently stuck at $45/barrel – passage of the legislation should bring investors back into Nigeria’s energy sector.