The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) claims that it killed over 15 policemen and not 12 as reported by the media after its men successfully ambushed a boat transporting police escorts in Azuzama, Southern Ijaw, Bayelsa State, on Saturday evening.
It said that it killed the policemen to teach the security forces a lesson for claiming that the group was incapable of resuming attacks in the oil-rich Niger Delta to avenge alleged collaboration between the Federal Government and South Africa to jail its former leader, Henry Okah.
According to MEND in a statement yesterday signed by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo:
“For dismissing Hurricane Exodus as an ‘empty threat’ heavily armed fighters from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, at about 17:00 Hrs., Saturday 06, April 2013, intercepted and engaged government security forces in a fierce gunfight lasting over 40 minutes at Azuzama, Southern Ijaw, Bayelsa State, Nigeria.
“The clash which happened in the river left over 15 security forces dead as we also lost two (2) of our fighters in the battle. We hope this encounter will serve as a lesson to the Joint Task Force from making careless utterances that cannot be backed as we remain resolute in our resumption of hostilities.”
MEND advised oil companies and the public to disregard the assurances of security by the Joint Military Task Force (JTF). It disowned one Comrade Azizi who claimed to be its spokesman, advising members of the public to ignore his comments.
“All oil companies and the public are advised to ignore the false sense of security being peddled by the JTF as well as the false comments from a ‘Comrade Azizi’, who claims to be the spokesman for the group. This person is not known to MEND, does not speak for MEND and his utterances and style do not reflect our plans and actions,” MEND said.
But reassuring the oil firms and the public, JTF spokesman, Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said in a statement released yesterday: “Our maritime and air assets have also been mobilised and we have intensified our patrols to dominate both land and water ways to check any assailant. We will not permit any lawlessness that will jeopardise the peace in the region.
“We again call on all peace loving and progressive Niger Deltans to dissociate themselves, their communities and leadership from this gang of retrogrades parading themselves as MEND.”