The Nigerian Navy has arrested a militant linked to last week’s attack on marine police in the Niger Delta that left four dead.
The Navy arrested Apudu Gole over the attack on Thursday and recovered two rocket propelled grenades, four machine guns, two AK-47s and two magazines, Nigeria’s Daily Trust reported yesterday. Gole, who was injured in the attack, said he was recruited into the militant gang and ‘given powers’ by its leader Shedrack Itokofuwei, known as Mammy Water.
The Joint Task Force (JTF) said that on Thursday Mammy Water and his gang had left their base in five speedboats and attacked JTF personnel who were heading to Ogbia. They encountered a marine police checkpoint, which they attacked, killing four security operatives in the process.
Itokofuwei was later killed during a gun battle with a naval patrol team. The JTF media coordinator said that “it is instructive to note that Mammy Water and his gang were the criminals behind the series of pirate attacks within the Nigerian territorial waters in the last three months.”
Joint Task Force authorities recovered the four bodies of those shot dead on Eweleso River several days after the attack.
The JTF said that a few different and uncoordinated groups had carried out attacks in the Niger Delta over the last three months. It dismissed the claim of responsibility by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Militant activity in the delta has dropped sharply since the main factions signed an amnesty with the government in 2009 but criminal gangs, pirates and oil thieves still roam its swamps and creeks.
Security in the delta has improved since militant activity shut down nearly half of Nigeria’s oil output around the middle of the last decade. But the situation remains volatile and inflamed by organised crime and local political rivalries.
Pirates opened fire on a Dutch cargo ship a few miles from Nigeria’s Port Harcourt last Wednesday, kidnapping the ship’s master and an engineer and stealing cash.
A Nigerian militant group based in the oil-producing Niger Delta said it attacked an oil pipeline owned by Italian firm Eni at the start of last month.
The recent uptick in violence in Bayelsa has coincided with a spat between President Goodluck Jonathan, who is from the state, and its powerful ex-governor Timipre Sylva, whom Nigerian authorities charged with money-laundering last week.