November 12, 2016 / 8:27 AM / 2 years ago

Nigeria's oil minister urges militants to cease Niger Delta attacks

A petrol attendant sits on a floating fuel station on the banks of the Nun River on the outskirts of the Bayelsa state capital, Yenagoa, in Nigeria's delta region October 8, 2015. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s oil minister urged militants on Friday to stop their attacks on oil facilities in Nigeria’s southern Niger Delta hub and pursue talks with the government.

The call comes after attacks in the last two weeks on the Trans Forcados Pipeline, the main contributor to the Forcados crude stream, the most recent of which was claimed by the Niger Delta Avengers militant group on Wednesday.

The attacks took place despite most groups adhering to a ceasefire in the last few weeks while the government pursued talks with community leaders who, like the militants, want a greater share of Nigeria’s energy wealth to go to the region that produces most of its oil.

A petroleum ministry statement said on Friday that Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for oil, had “expressed his grave concern and disappointment about the recent pipeline attacks”, particularly coming after a meeting between local leaders and the president.

“He urges all militants to stop and give the ensuing dialogue a chance to birth peace in the region,” said the statement.

Earlier this month President Muhammadu Buhari met with leaders from the southern swampland for the first time since the attacks began in January. They urged him to pull the army out of the region, order oil firms to move their headquarters there and spend more on development to end the militancy.

Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle, Greg Mahlich

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