The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) Wednesday served notice to resume attacks in the Niger Delta from midnight tomorrow in retaliation for the conviction of its leader, Mr. Henry Okah, by a South African court last week.
But in a swift reaction, the Joint Task Force (JTF), 'Operation Pulo Shield' condemned the militant group's threat, warning that what the people of the region needed at this critical time was peace and sustainable development not war.
MEND, in a statement issued yesterday by its spokesman, Gbomo Jomo, said: "After a careful deliberation and other considerations, with effect from 00:00 hours, Friday 05, April 2013, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), will commence with a plague of sustained attacks codenamed 'Hurricane Exodus'."
According to the group, Hurricane Exodus will be a direct repercussion for a forged threat letter contrived by the Nigerian and South African Governments purporting to have originated from MEND.
"This fake letter was used as evidence against Okah for which a thirteen-year sentence was passed. To make matters worse, the prosecution's second witness, Mr. Sele Victor-Ben, exclaimed in court that the letter was a fake, after failing to catch the prosecutor's eye who wanted him to lie under oath.
"We are now determined to conjure this imaginary trumped up threat into a painful reality," said MEND.
The attacks, the group ominously promised, would be sustained until an unreserved apology is offered to MEND and the Nigerian government shows their willingness to dialogue.
"The same way they are willing to dialogue with Boko Haram," it stated.
But the JTF, in a statement by Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, stated that, "the JTF Operation Pulo Shield has caught wind of this threat prior to the issuance of the statement today (yesterday) by some persons parading themselves as MEND."
The JTF said the Niger Deltans were not in any bondage and therefore do not require an armed struggle or emancipation as claimed by this threatening gang.
"What Niger Deltans are in a dire need of now, is peace for sustainable development having emerged from the dark days of turbulence in the region.
"Informed by this development, we have effected some redeployment to tackle any upheaval. This set of people are advised to tow the path of law and order in addressing whatever grievance they have and to desist from any action that will upset the peace and development of the Niger Delta.
"The good and peace loving people of the Niger Delta are enjoined to dissociate themselves, their communities and leadership from this unwholesome approach as portrayed by this group," JTF said.