Abuja/Warri — There was heavy fighting on Wednesday between Joint Military Task Force (JTF) and renegade militants under the aegis of Niger Delta Liberation Force (NDLF) headed by John Togo, who was earlier declared wanted by JTF.
Sources said the militant might have been captured in the operation, which is ongoing. The casualty figures are not yet clear as at the time of filing this report but sources told our correspondent that the militants were completely subdued by the fire power of the agency resulting in the overrunning of the 'Israel Barracks' of the group.
The latest operation is part of the ongoing efforts to eliminate criminal gangs from the Niger Delta region.
Daily Independent gathered that the troops of JTF at about 4 p.m. seized the notorious John Togo's camps located in Ayakiromo and Okirika respectively.
The operation was said to have lasted about an hour and was undertaken by combined force of all JTF components. Media Coordinator of JTF, Lt. Col. Timothy Antigha, confirmed the operation; reiterating that the agency would not rest on its oars until the area is rid of criminals.
Meanwhile, the rebel group has called on Federal Government to scrap JTF; describing it as an army of occupation. The group in a statement sent by its spokesman, Mark Anthony, said that the continued stay of JTF in the area had led to more violence as the agency cannot guarantee peace.
"NDLF is appealing to the Federal Government that JTF should be scrapped and demobilised for the continued peace in Niger Delta. This is because over the years of JTF establishment, it has been overtly known that it cannot secure and protect the oil pipelines and oil stations; including personnel in Niger Delta," he said.
Similarly, Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Oluseyi Petirin, said freedom fighters otherwise known as militants no more exist in the Niger Delta region.
He said the commitment of the Federal Government to the development of the area and the granting of amnesty to militants in the recent past have effectively taken care of the issue, stressing that those who are still carrying and destroying key government structures in the area and also kidnapping people are common criminals that would be treated as they are by the law.
Speaking at a media luncheon held at Scorpion Officers Mess, WU Bassaey Barrack on Wednesday, Petirin in a message tagged - 'enough is enough' said Federal Government would not sit and allow the common criminals to derail the country's economy.