By Emma Amaize
WARRIâ€”The JOINT Task Force on the Niger-Delta responded yesterday to the temporary ceasefire declared by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, saying it not was not at war with anybody in the region and was providing security to everybody, including MEND members.
Its spokesman, Colonel Rabe Abubakar, said in an online statement: â€œOur response to MENDâ€™s declaration of a 60-day ceasefire period is that we were not at war with anybody in the Niger Delta,Â rather we are here for the restoration of law and order and we are providing security to all, including MEND membersâ€.
According to him, â€œthe JTF has been observing and respecting the amnesty period as proclaimed by Mr. President during which we have not been carrying out any Search and Rescue Operation or any form of aggressive exercise for that matter, and even when MEND rascally engaged in the destruction of oil installations, the JTF remained restraint in not acting in contrast to the governmentâ€™s peace efforts.
â€œHowever, we will continue to monitor and carry out our normal duties in Niger Delta within the ambit of our mandate and the amnesty proclamation by Mr. President. The public should not be deceived.â€
He said â€œinformation reaching the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Restore Hope, indicates that MEND has once again sent a misleading, unfounded and diversionary message that the JTF has mobilized its troops in seven gun boats to carry out an operation in Delta – Ondo border area.
â€œThis is yet another mischief by MEND against the JTF as the message is not only false, malicious but incredible.
â€œIt is on record that the JTF is in total observance and obedience to the recent amnesty proclamation by Mr President. This could be explained by its patience of not responding to the series of attacks by MEND on pipelines and installations.
Therefore, the JTF, as a security implementing outfit, cannot carry out any acts contrary to achieving set objectives as far as the amnesty for militants is concerned.
â€œMENDâ€™s claim that we mobilized seven gun boats with armed soldiers to carry out an attack at a camp near Delta â€“ Ondo border today is divisionary and has no iota of truth, as our actions are guided by the prevailing situation now.
â€œWhy must JTF attack any body, group or camp now, knowing full well that the amnesty is fully in place?
â€œThe JTF is in all places within the Niger Delta region carrying out patrols and escort duties in addition to its normal military duties. Dose MEND want the JTF not to carry out these duties?
â€œApparently, MEND are the aggressors going by the recent spate of bombings that were carried out on pipelines of major oil companies.
â€œThey are finding strategy to cover-up their shameful acts.Â They should leave the JTF alone to execute its mandate.Â A criminal will always suspect himself even when he is not being suspected by any other person.â€