By Emma Amaize
WARRI — JOINT Task Force, JTF, on the Niger Delta has declared the leader of the Niger Delta Liberation Force, NDLF, John Togo, who, three days ago, announced his intention to surrender and ceased hostilities, wanted for establishing new militant camp, kidnapping, rape, sea robbery among other crimes in the Niger Delta.
The task force said in a statement said that it was not in any negotiation with the ex-militant leader through his lawyer, Mr Casely Omon-Irabor and as a matter of fact, that it does not discuss with criminals.
According to its media coordinator, Lt. Col. Anthony Antigha, “the attention of the Joint Task Force, Operation Restore Hope, has been drawn to a news item entitled, John Togo Surrenders, Agrees To Ceasefire, which appeared on page 6 of 29 November edition of Vanguard Newspaper.
In the story, the correspondent alleged that a certain lawyer named Casely Omon-Irabor, who represents John Togo has been consulting with the JTF with a view to facilitating the alleged ‘surrender and ceasefire’ for the renegade militant.
“The story gives the wrong and odious impression that the JTF is negotiating with a criminal who has subjected the creek communities of the Niger Delta to untold hardship due to his criminal activities.
This story is unfortunate, completely false, intended to malign the command of the JTF and misdirect the Federal Government and the generality of Nigerians about the true situation on ground.
“It is further intended to undermine the gallant effort of the JTF to rout dangerous criminal gangs from the creeks of the Niger Delta.
We ‘re not negotiating with John Togo
“Consequently, the Task Force wishes to make it abundantly clear that it is not directly or through any proxy, negotiating or planning to negotiate with anyone to facilitate the surrender or ceasefire for anyone as claimed by the report.
“The purported ‘preliminary discussion with the JTF’ alleged in the story did not take place. The counsel who allegedly held this ‘preliminary discussion’- with the JTF has denied having had any such discussion or mentioning same to the correspondent.
“For the avoidance of doubt, John Togo is someone who refused to embrace the amnesty programme and preferred to levy war on the state, when the JTF needed him to surrender his militant camp and also account for the resurgence of kidnapping, rape, sea robbery among other crimes perpetrated by his gang in the creeks of the Niger Delta.
“His profile suggests that he is a dangerous criminal and should not be taken for granted. In fact he has been declared wanted by the Joint Task Force. Therefore, anyone who is harbouring John Togo is advised to turn him in, to avoid being caught in the cross fire,” he said.
“In the light of the foregoing, the JTF wishes to advise correspondents to be fair and just in the reportage of events, especially those that affect the security situation in the Niger Delta. Playing politics or engaging in outright mischief with the security situation in the region could have grim and severe consequences for everyone”, the spokesman said.