JOHN TOGO SURRENDERS
The General John Togo-led Niger Delta Liberation Force (NDLF) has finally bowed to the superior fire power of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) as its members have decided to surrender and abandon their camps in the Niger Delta region.
The JTF, in the midst of apprehension over its ongoing military operation to capture Togo, had declared that it would not halt its operation.
The spokesman of NDLF, Mark Anthony, in a statement titled: 'End of last battle, why we surrendered and abandoned Israel Barracks,' said while it was aware the JTF was counting its monumental losses, it was also counting its own losses in terms of casualties.
According to NDLF, its fighters have succeeded in drawing attention to the fact that the problem of the Niger Delta still remained unresolved inspite of the Federal Government amnesty programme.
The group, in a veiled admittance of defeat, noted that 'we hereby declare that the JTF has won in the final battle in the creeks,' stressing however that 'the war is not over yet in Niger Delta.'
It disclosed that the decision to surrender and vacate the barracks reached at a meeting held last Saturday was not taken out of cowardice but to protect Ijaw and Urhobo communities suffering untold hardship because of the incessant battle with the JTF.
The top leadership of the NDLF, which reminded Federal Government that the JTF did not destroy its armoury, pleaded with the government to take urgent steps to integrate NDLF fighters into the amnesty programme and withdraw the weapons with them to guarantee permanent peace in the creeks.
The statement reads in part: 'The NDLF leadership in line with the gentleman agreement with the authorities of the federal amnesty programme, which was directed by President Goodluck Jonathan for enduring peace in Niger has hereby directed all soldiers of NDLF in our camps, including the Israel Barracks to vacate the creeks to their various towns and villages, awaiting further formal pronouncement from Mr. President to hand over unconditionally all NDLF weapons to the Nigerian army through the coordinator of the federal amnesty programme and special adviser to the president on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku and his team on a later date.
'This far reaching decision was taken on Saturday, 14 at Israel Barracks after consultation with selected top Niger Delta stakeholders as part of NDLF earlier pledge with the authorities of the federal amnesty programme not to continue bombing oil installations following the outcome of the April 16 presidential election, which one of our own, President Goodluck Jonatahan, won in a keenly contested poll by the grace of the Almighty God.'
Intelligence sources at the JTF said NDLF top hierarchy, aware that the capture of Togo and his key men would be concluded in matter of days, were coming up with the surrender story to escape the fate that would befall them after their capture.
According to the source, 'there is no escape route for Togo and he knows the game is up and has resorted to the story that they are willing to surrender.'
Meanwhile, the media coordinator of the JTF, Lt. Col Timothy Antigha said the leadership of the security outfit was not aware of any plan of the Togo-led NDLF to surrender.
Antigha in an interview with Daily Sun explained: 'I can tell you that the JTF is not aware of any plans of the Togo-led NDLF to surrender. There are internationally recongised procedures to follow when you want to surrender. If NDLF wants to surrender they should follow that procedure. They cannot surrender to themselves on the pages of newspapers.'