Jan 30 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s main militant group said on Saturday it was ending a three-month-old ceasefire and threatened to unleash an “all-out onslaught” against Africa’s biggest energy industry.
The rebel group was severely weakened after its senior leaders and thousands of others accepted clemency and disarmed under a presidential amnesty which ended last October.
It is unclear who is now running the group.
Here are some details on the three main former Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) field commanders who accepted amnesty and the genesis of the group.
A former gang leader in Rivers State in the eastern Niger Delta for around a decade, Ateke Tom set up the Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV), one of several groups to enjoy strong backing from politicians who used them to help rig elections.
The NDV was involved in some of the heaviest clashes in years in the oil hub of Port Harcourt in July and August 2007, when more than 100 people died in fighting with a rival gang involving automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.
Tom had largely operated independently of MEND, the umbrella militant group in the region, but his faction has claimed some significant attacks against the oil industry.
Security sources say he was also heavily involved in oil bunkering, a lucrative trade in industrial quantities of stolen crude smuggled onto the international market.
Also based in Rivers state, Dagogo started out as a top commander loyal to former militant leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, whose Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force turned over thousands of weapons in return for amnesty in 2004.
Dagogo then set up camp on his own before becoming one of the founding field commanders of MEND, which knocked out a quarter of Nigerian oil output when it burst onto the scene with a series of attacks in early 2006.
Dagogo is loyal to Henry Okah, the suspected leader of MEND who was on trial for gun-running and treason before being released last July after accepting President Umaru Yar’Adua’s amnesty offer.
Full name Government Ekpemupolo, he was one of the leaders of the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC), based in the western city of Warri and responsible for shutting down a large chunk of oil output from the western delta in 2003.
Tompolo is believed to have been key to drawing together the factions which went on to form MEND.
He was responsible in particular for attacks on Chevron (CVX.N) and thought to be a major oil bunkerer. Security forces used helicopters and gunboats to attack his camps around Warri, capital of Delta state, last May.
Sources: International Crisis Group, public statements by Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, security sources
Writing by Nick Tattersall For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/