Who are Nigeria's Mend oil militants?

Mend fighters (file photo)

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) is a loose web of armed groups in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta region.

These gangs have spent years kidnapping oil workers, attacking oil fields, blowing up pipelines and fighting Nigeria's army.

Niger Delta politicians originally created the gangs - by arming young men to use as their private armies and to rig elections.

But later, the young men began to turn the guns on the government, and oil companies, organising into a militant movement, under the banner Mend.

Mending their ways?

Map of Nigeria
  • Formed out of previous militant groups in 2006
  • Send regular e-mails to media
  • Split into several factions
  • Most leaders accepted amnesty
  • 1 October attack first in Abuja
  • Based in creeks of Niger Delta
  • Want oil wealth to remain in Delta

They demand that the Delta receive more benefits from its oil, with a fairer share of the wealth invested in roads, schools, hospitals, clean water and power supply.

The Delta is impoverished - in spite of five decades of oil extraction.

But Mend's gangs also run criminal rackets - kidnapping civilians for ransom, and making billions of dollars by stealing crude oil from pipelines.

In the past, they have cut Nigeria's oil production by one-third - causing spikes in the global oil price.

The group was successful, partly because of a sophisticated media strategy.

A shadowy figure, who signed himself "Jomo Gbomo", creates headlines by sending journalists dramatic e-mails - either promising attacks, or denouncing Nigeria's government.

Some security experts believed "Jomo Gbomo" to be Henry Okah, until he was imprisoned, accused of gun-running.

Their authorship today is unclear.

But at present, the Mend web is split.

Nearly all the senior commanders in the field - and their foot soldiers - have accepted an amnesty, and are observing a ceasefire.

One small faction has not. That group is presumed to be behind the Abuja car bombs.

That faction continues to send e-mails to the media - claiming to speak for the whole of Mend - to the irritation of the senior figures on ceasefire.

More on This Story

Nigeria at 50

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features

  • chocolate cake and strawberriesTrick your tongue

    Would this dessert taste different on a black plate?


  • Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George leaving New Zealand'Great ambassadors'

    How New Zealand reacted to William, Kate - and George


  • Major Power Failure ident on BBC2Going live

    Why BBC Two's launch was not all right on the night


  • Front display of radio Strange echoes

    The mysterious 'numbers stations' left over from the Cold War era


  • A letter from a Somali refugee to a Syrian child'Be a star'

    Children's uplifting letters of hope to homeless Syrians


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.