Leaders from the Nigeria’s Niger Delta urged President Muhammadu Buhari to pull army forces out from the oil hub. Leaders also called on Tuesday that Mr. Buhari orders oil firms to move headquarters there and spend more on development to end militancy in the region.
Buhari met leaders from the southern swampland for the first time since militants started a wave of attacks on oil pipelines in January to push for a greater share of oil revenues.
At the meeting in the presidential villa in Abuja, Niger Delta leaders, joined by representatives of militant groups, gave Buhari a list of 16 demands to pacify the impoverished region where many say they do not benefit from the oil wealth.
The list “includes the withdrawal of the military in oil producing communities in the region”, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, a Niger Delta leader leading the region’s delegation, said after the meeting, adding: “We don’t want the communities militarized.”
Buhari sent in army reinforcements in May to hunt down militants, a move that stoked anger as residents complained of rape, looting and arrests of youths unrelated to the militants, charges denied by the military.
The delegation leader also said oil firms should move headquarters to the region so unemployed youths – who often work for militants – could get more jobs. Foreign firms active in Nigeria are often based in the commercial capital Lagos.
The Niger Delta leaders also asked for more funds for the development and an amnesty plan for ex fighters which Buhari had planned to cut, which has upset the militant scene.