By Emma Amaize
JOINT Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta Wednesday dismissed the claim by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND) that the ceasefire declared by the militant group with effect fromÂ today was under threat by the security outfit.
Spokesman of the task force, Colonel Rabe Abubakar told Vanguard that the claim by MEND that the task force had dispatched seven gun boats with heavily armed troops to a militant camp around the boarders of Delta and Ondo states was not true.
He said since the President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua announced amnesty for militants, the JTF has scaled down its hunts for them and was only carrying out its routine operation in the region.
According to him, the declaration of a ceasefire by MEND was not strange to the task force, as it had always declared ceasefires in the past and broken it. He, however, said the JTF was not at war with MEND and so, the militant group was on its own in the avowed ceasefire.
Col Abubakar stated as long as the amnesty was in place, the task force would not mobilize to attack any militant formation for now and so, the claim that it dispatched men to attack a militant camp was a fabrication.
He said the task force was still guarding oil installations in the region and escorting vessels, wondering why the militants were raising dust over its presence in Gbaramatu kingdom alone, whereas, soldiers were all over the region.
The JTF spokesman stated, however, â€œThe fact that we have called off the Cordon and Search operation, which became automatic the day the President proclaimed amnesty, does not mean that we will fold our hands and watch criminals take over the region or destroy oil facilitiesâ€.
He said there was no need for the militants raising alarm about any militant camp because the task force knows that locations of all the militant camps , but, restrained itself from destroying them like it did to Camp 5 and others, the moment the President proclaimed amnesty.
The task force urged militants in the region to embrace the amnesty offered them by the government instead of fomenting more troubles in the region.