Saturday, 11 June 2016

UK denies inviting Buhari and Niger Delta militants for peace talks

A UK official has denied allegations that Britain invited Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and members of militant groups to London for secret talks on how to halt renewed violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
Press and public affairs officer at the British High Commission in Abuja, Joe Abuku, said these claims were incorrect as Buhari was in London for a medical treatment.

"We are aware that President Buhari is currently in London seeking medical attention. We are not aware of any meetings on the Niger Delta while he is there," Abuku told the Vanguard newspaper.

Earlier in June, rumours spread that Buhari was spending 10 days in London to hold "secret talks" with militants and not to rest and treat an ear infection, as previously claimed. A source close to IBTimes UK confirmed the rumour and alleged former members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) were travelling to London to attend secret talks.

The source also added talks could result in the release of pro-Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu – who is standing trial in Nigeria on six counts of treasonable felony charges – in exchange for a ceasefire. IBTimes UK could not independently verify the claims.

New violence in Niger Delta

The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) is the latest militant organisation to wage war against Nigeria due to perceived marginalisation in the Niger Delta. Attacks blamed on NDA forced Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell to close two plants, with the group vowing to bring the country's oil production down "to zero". On Friday 10 June the group claimed responsibility for an attack at Agip's "major crude oil Line in Bayelsa State".

Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, has already been negatively affected by renewed violence in the area as oil production has dropped to 1.6m barrels per day (bpd), from 2.2m bpd.

A UK official has denied allegations that Britain invited Nigerian President