Militants Kidnapp Three Filipino Oil Workers
5 Aug 2006
Author: Ahamefula Ogbu, Crusoe Osagie, and Fidelia Okwuonu
About five oil workers are feared killed and three Filipinos working for American-owned oil firm kidnapped yesterday in separate militant attacks in Rivers State.
The expatriates that were killed were said to be contractors engaged by Shell Development Corporation for survey jobs, who were allegedly returning to base after the day's job. Before they were ambushed
The killing, which took place along Egbema/Aga Road in Egbema/Ndoni Local Government area of the State is still shrouded in controversy as neither the police nor employers of the slain expatriates could give the names of the victims.
The kidnapping took place in Bonny area of Rivers State on the heels of the abduction of a German oil worker in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
"A group of gunmen intercepted their car, shot their tyre, fired into the air and took three Filipinos away in a speedboat," a police source said.
When THISDAY contacted the Police, the State Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Ireju Barasua confirmed the stories but said that details about the incidents were sketchy.
THISDAY sources at the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas also confirmed the story stating that the abductees were staff of one of their contractors.
Industry source however stated that another worker ran away during the ambush, successfully avoiding the kidnappers' bullets.
The three Filipinos were said to work for Overseas Technical Service, a United Kingdom subsidiary of United States company Michael Baker Corporation, at the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas plant on Bonny Island.
"We have put mechanisms in place to secure the release of our people and we are waiting to hear from the kidnappers on their demands," said Richmond Leeb, general manager of Overseas Technical Service in Nigeria.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which is waging a campaign of kidnapping and sabotage against the world's eighth largest oil exporter, said it was not behind the abductions.
"No insult intended, but we have little value for Filipino hostages," MEND said in an email.
MEND, which demands local control over the delta's oil resources, also denied involvement in the German's abduction.
"State government officials have been using hostages to make extra cash. Some encourage small bands to take hostages so they can make money out of subsequent negotiations," the group said.
On the early hours of Thursday, a German, Guido Schiffaiph staff of Billsinger and Berger was kidnapped on his way to work, driven in his car to the water side area and transferred into another vehicle before he was put on board an outboard engine boat and taken to unknown destination.
Meanwhile the World oil prices resumed an upwards swing yesterday as the news of the abduction of the three Filipino oil workers broke.
Traders said New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, rose by 22c to $75,68 a barrel in electronic deals before the official opening of the US market.
In London, Brent North Sea crude for September delivery gained 45c to $77,01 a barrel in electronic trading.
Attacks on oil facilities and personnel by separatist militants and communities have risen in the restive region, cutting oil exports by one quarter from Nigeria which is the world's sixth-biggest oil exporter.