By Emma Amaize
COMMANDER of the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta, otherwise known as â€œOperation Restore Hopeâ€, Major General Sarkin Yarkin-Bello fumed yesterday over media report that the task force had started withdrawing its troops from Warri , saying it is not true.
Speaking on phone with Vanguard, he said, â€œMy lines are open, I have always said that I am ready to speak to the press at any time, the JTF has not left Warri, we have not withdrawn our troops, we are still in Gbaramatu kingdom of Warri South-West local government area, and people are free to move about, we are not stopping them, why should people be writing that we have withdrawn when we are still in Warriâ€.
Major-General Yarkin-Bello said the task force was performing its assigned roles in the region and there was no way it would just pull abandon the responsibilities given to it by the Federal Government.
He said the task force would continue to play its role of providing security to the people of Niger Delta, both on water and on land and at all times, especially, at this critical moment of peace initiative adopted by Federal Government.
Coordinator of the Joint Media Campaign Centre (JMCC) of the task force, Colonel Rabe Abubakar in a statement, yesterday, also said, â€œThe Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Restore Hope, is pressed to refute rumours making the rounds on the pages of some Nigerian daily newspapers claiming that the JTF has withdrawn its troops from the Gbaramatu Kingdom of Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta
â€œIn line with the Presidential Amnesty and the resolve by government to return the displaced indigenes of Gbaramatu to their homes, the JTF played a leading role in providing security escorts to the returnees. Within this period there were movement of troops in and out of the kingdom and common sense should tell anybody that such could not signify troopâ€™s withdrawal, rather itâ€™s an exhibition of JTFâ€™s concern and wish to facilitate our brothers and sisters return to their ancestral homes, which ought to have attracted applause rather then painting a false scenario that we withdrew from the area.
â€œThe presence of JTF in Gbaramatu and other parts of Niger Delta is for the security of lives and property of the law-abiding citizens, expatriates and the multi-national oil companies to feel secured to carry out their legitimate endeavours and no stone would be left unturned in our strive to achieve this.
â€œIn that light, the JTF has been up and doing in patrolling the waterways to create safe passages to those plying their trade. Therefore, the insinuations that the JTF has pulled out its troops from that area are baseless and falsely concocted to portray the force as a disappointment to all peace-loving citizens of that kingdom and this we will not allow to happenâ€, he said.