The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta codenamed ‘Operation Pulo Shield’ has vowed to descend heavily on the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) over its activities in the region.
Reacting to a statement credited to MEND’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo that the group was responsible for the killing of soldiers in a community between Rivers and Bayelsa states, the hijack of a vessel from which two American sailors were kidnapped and the fire incident in the Warri Petrochemical refinery, JTF scoffed at the claims describing them as the ‘grandiose illusion’ of drowning gangsters.
The media coordinator of JTF, Lt. Col Onyeama Nwachukwu while reacting to the pronouncement, stressed that MEND did not cause the fire incident at the Warri Refinery neither were the soldiers that died in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State killed by MEND soldiers.
Nwachukwu stated that the JTF would soon clamp down on MEND just like it has been able to smoke out other criminals causing instability in the region in the recent past.
His statement read in part: “These claims are a reflection of the grandiose illusion of drowning gangsters.
“It is no longer news that their insatiable and desperate desire to conjure up a seeming apocalypse in order to make the world see the Niger Delta as insecure has again failed, as they have continuously fed the public with lies of a grossly failed ‘Hurricane Exodus’.
“The NNPC Warri refinery fire incident, which the NNPC have clearly stated was accidental and occurred when their engineers were working in the top unit of the refinery, is a crystal clear example of the false claims of these criminals.
“Our troops in the Andoni incident defended the civilians they escorted gallantly by ensuring their safety. How come the so called MEND did not claim responsibility before now as they would have usually done?
“It is simply because they had no knowledge of it until we made it public and ridiculously they have jumped at it for self glorification.
“This claim is therefore an afterthought. The Merchant vessel named Retriever hijacked off the coast by unknown pirates was not at all escorted. It is a Merchant vessel, which had no escort and no JTF presence, how then could JTF have suffered casualty in that incident?” he asked.