By Samuel Oyadongha
The Joint Task Force, yesterday, confirmed losing seven soldiers and a mobile policeman during the on-going military operations in some parts of waterways and creeks in Delta State.
The special security outfit for the Niger Delta codenamed “Operation Restore Hope” said the decision to downplay the casualties on the part of the JTF was to avoid a tensed situation in the region.
It was learnt that the deceased officers were part of the Joint Task Force personnel ambushed during the first attempt on the camp belonging to renegade militant, John Togo, in Delta.
Commander of the Joint Task Force, Major General Charles Omoregie, while speaking during a visit by some Ijaw elders led by the former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, said the loss of military personnel during the military action wouldnot deter the immeddiate goal of the task force at apprehending and bringing John Togo to justice.
Maj. Gen Omoregie told the Ijaw leaders that the controversy kick-started by some individuals in Delta State on the destruction at Ayakoromor community was mischievous and politicised, insisting that the security forces did not carry out massacre in the community as claimed.
According to him: “We did not carry out a massacre in Ayakoromor as widely and mischievously reported. I tell you my elders without any fear of contradiction that the entire Ayakoromor incident has been politicised. The latest figure is 50. People are just mentioning numbers for selfish reasons. Let those with the facts on the massacre prove it.”
“We are still focussed on apprehending and bringing John Togo to justice. The immediate goal of the JTF is to assist the indigenes of Ayakoromor return to their communities.”
The JTF boss informed the Ijaw leaders of the receipt of relief assistance from the Defence Headquarters in Abuja for the rehabilitation and restoration efforts needed for the return of normalcy in the community.
Earlier, the former Minister of Police Affairs and the leader of the Ijaw Elders delegation, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, said though they heard various accounts of the incident at Ayakoromor community, but decided to get firsthand version of the JTF in order to assist them make their position known on the issue.
He said: “We don’t think all we have heard is true and we have decided to get the side of your story.”