By Felix Onuah
ABUJA Oct 24 (Reuters) – Nigeria will hold a meeting with community leaders and representatives of militants from the Niger Delta next week in Abuja to end the insurgents’ attacks on oil facilities in the southern region, two government sources told Reuters on Monday.
Attacks on Nigeria’s energy facilities by groups calling for the Delta region to receive a greater share of the OPEC member’s oil wealth have cut crude production, which stood at 2.1 million barrels per day at the start of the year, by a third.
Nigeria has been holding talks for months to end the violence but no lasting ceasefire has been agreed do far in the oil hub where many complain about poverty despite providing much of Nigeria’s oil exports.
“An enlarged Niger Delta stakeholders dialogue will be held in Abuja on October 31,” one of the sources said.
Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu and possibly President Muhammadu Buhari would take part in the session, one of the sources said. Buhari’s spokesman declined to comment.
Buhari has called for dialogue but not taken part in any previous meetings which took part in the Niger Delta.
The Niger Delta Avengers, which has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks on energy facilities in the region since the start of the year, had initially declared a ceasefire in August but then claimed another attack last month.
Another group, the Greenland Justice Mandate, which has never agreed to cease hostilities, has claimed several attacks on crude pipeline run by state oil firm NNPC since last month.
Nigeria agreed in 2009 with major militant groups on a ceasefire to end a previous insurgency but previously unknown groups took up arms again after authorities tried to arrest a former militant leader on corruption charges.
Any ceasefire would be difficult to enforce as the militant scene is splintered into small groups made up of angry young unemployed men which even their leaders struggle to control. (Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Ulf Laessing. Editing by Jane Merriman and David Evans)
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