Oil Hostages Freed, Govt To 'Deal Ruthlessly' With Future Abductions

Nigerian press has confirmed that five oil workers kidnapped March 30 offshore Ondo have been released.

The five employees of Express/Shebah Petroleum and Gas Company Limited, all Nigerians, were delivered to the Ondo deputy governor by the militant youth gang, which consisted of inividuals from 21 Ilaje communities.

The five oil workers were taken March 30 from an offshore platform after eight speedboats carrying the militant youths surrounded the structure.

The Ondo deputy governor said in a prepared speech that such hostage situations will no longer be tolerated by government officials, according to Nigerian reports. Deputy Governor Omolade Oluwateru said the government "would not hesitate to deal ruthlessly with any person or group" that create trouble for those in the oil-producing areas of the state.

Oluwateru said the government negotiated the release of the hostages directly with the communities.

Complaints from the 21 Ilaje communities centered around the oil company failing to honor its part of a previous agreement to offer employment and scholarships for the youths of the communities.

Deelan Chukwu, a spokesperson for Express/Shebah, stated that his company would do its part "in enhancing peace and progress in the area."

According to the Ondo state government, oil production for the area tops out at 2 million bbl/d, with 36 million barrels in reserve. The country holds an estimated 160 Tcf of natural gas reserves.

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