avengers
Militant group Niger Delta Avengers

Militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, says it has asked its fighters to prepare to confront the ”enemy” as it claimed Nigerian authorities were not ready for dialogue.

The group, after staging major attacks on oil facilities crippling Nigeria’s  oil output in 2016, later declared a ceasefire to discuss with the Nigerian government.

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The attacks cut the country’s oil production, which stood at 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) at the start of 2016, by more than a third in June 2016. Although, Nigeria’s oil minister said in December pipeline repairs lifted output to nearly 1.8 million bpd.

“It has been evidently clear that the Nigerian state is not ready for any form of dialogue and negotiation,” the Niger Delta Avengers said in a statement posted on their website.

“All fighters and commands are hereby placed on high readiness in your webs of operations to hit and knock the enemy very hard,” the group said.

It declared the start of an “Operations Walls of Jericho and Hurricane Joshua … to reclaim our motherland” but did not say whether this meant an end of the ceasefire or gave any details

In the past six months,  government has held talks  with Niger Delta leaders to address grievances of poverty and oil pollution. In his New Year speech, President Muhammadu Buhari also spoke about government’s readiness to forge peace in the region.

But the  militants have complained that no progress has been made.

The Avengers, like other militant groups, has split into different factions, which struggle to control their fighters, unemployed young men who work for anybody who pays them.

Another former militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which had agreed to lay down arms in 2009, had said a week ago it had lost trust in the government to bring peace to the region.

Those behind the pipeline attacks, which began in early 2016, say they want a greater share of Nigeria’s energy wealth to go to the southern region.

The frequency of attacks has diminished since President Muhammadu Buhari held talks with community leaders but there are sporadic attacks, most recently in late November.