WARRI—THE Joint Task Force, JTF, on the Niger-Delta, yesterday, raided Ayakoromor community,  hometown of the leader of the Niger-Delta Liberation Force, NDLF, John Togo, from both air and land.
The raid, with military aircraft and gunboats, allegedly claimed the lives of over 100 persons.

Spokesman of the task force, Lt. Colonel Timothy Antigha, who confirmed the attack in a telephone interview with Vanguard said: “It is too early to know the casualties if any, but what I can tell you, is that the operation lasted for about one hour and our combined forces seized John Togo’s camp.”

However, Togo, who also spoke to Vanguard on phone accused the JTF of genocide, saying he burnt his camp in Ayokoromor since November 18 with explosives, and proceeded to a new location, Israel Barracks, off the Atlantic Ocean, which was reported by the media. He wondered why the task force went to attack innocent persons in the name of searching for him.

He said that 52 people were killed, 48  more than the 100 casualties quoted by the NDLF spokesman, “Captain” Mark Anthony in an email statement, last night. A militant source, however, said the death figure might have risen between the time Togo and Anthony spoke to the media.

In a terse statement, entitled “JTF overrun John Togo camps”, Lt Col Antigha said: “As part of on-going operation to eliminate criminal gangs from the Niger Delta, troops of the Joint Task Force Operation Restore Hope at about 4.00 p.m Nigerian time seized the notorious John Togo camps located in Ayakoromor.

The operation which lasted about an hour was undertaken by combined forced of all JTF components.”
But NDLF in its statement said, “Our fear of JTF carrying out air raiding of innocent civil communities after our first encounter on November 17, 2011 has been perfected. Today, December 1,2011, (yesterday), JTF at about 12.00 p.m carried out an attack on civil ancient Ayakoromor community with three military air bombers and 15 gunboats, pounded the community with  mortars from the aircraft, the raiding which lasted about one hour, committing genocide, with death record of over 100 persons in the community.

Children as casualties

“The casualties are mostly little children, aged parents and women who could not escape through the thick forest. Some children are drowned, running into the riverside for fear of the air raiders. We are calling on President Goodluck Jonathan and the international communities to call the JTF to order, from using military aircraft in combating internal crisis.

The Nigerian army under JTF which is supposed to protect its citizens have turned round to be ‘killers squad’ of its innocent citizens over the years.

“NDLF condemns the bombing of the innocent and harmless Ayakoromor community, because the ancient community, is a law abiding community with its high population going about their normal legitimate businesses.

“We are taken aback, especially when the JTF could not come to our Israel Barracks, where the NDLF soldiers are waiting for its aircraft bombers with their rocket propellers guns to repel any of such attempts on our barracks. The action of JTF raiding harmless and innocent communities is a mark of defeat by civilian soldiers.”

The NDLF leader, Togo, told Vanguard on phone that he was surprised that the task force would visit such a calamity on innocent villagers, saying, “I have no camp in Ayokoromor, so it is a lie to say that they seized my camp. I destroyed the place by myself.”

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