The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has threatened to launch violent attacks on mosques, hajj camps, Islamic institutions, large congregations of Islamic followers, as well as assassinations of clerics who propagate doctrines of hate.

According to MEND in a statement issued on Sunday evening and signed by its spokesperson Gbomo Jomo, the proposed attacks is a crusade to save Christianity in Nigeria from annihilation and will form the core mission of this crusade code named “Operation Barbarossa”.

According to MEND, “On behalf of the hapless Christian population in Nigeria, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D), will from Friday, May 31, 2013, embark on a crusade to save Christianity in Nigeria from annihilation. The bombings of mosques, hajj camps, Islamic institutions, large congregations in Islamic events and assassinations of clerics that propagate doctrines of hate, will form the core mission of this crusade code named “Operation Barbarossa”.

“This campaign will not in any way interfere with the ongoing “Hurricane Exodus” – which on Saturday, April 13, 2013, at about 01:00 Hrs, swept through the Ewellesuo community, Nembe, Bayelsa State, leaving the destruction of well 62, belonging to Shell Petroleum in its wake. We may only consider a ceasefire of “Operation Barbarossa” if the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Catholic Church and Henry Okah, one of the few leaders in the Niger Delta region we respect for his integrity, intervenes. Also the assurance for a cessation of hostilities targeted at Christians in their places of worship, made privately or publicly by the real Boko Haram leadership will make us call off this crusade.”

Contacted on the development, the Media Coordinator of the JTF, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu stated that those attempting to christen themselves MEND today are impostors and a bundle of “never do wells” who want to be accorded undue recognition at the ex pence of the peace currently savoured in the Niger Delta, “The lack of focus and genuineness of intention of this gang seeking to hide under the name of MEND is apparent in its statements. As it continues to contradict itself. “

“You recall that it had earlier claimed to be acting under the directives of Henry Orkar and now it refers to the same person as just one of the respected leaders of the Niger Delta. Now they are seeking sympathy and acceptance of the public by claiming to want to avenge for Christians. Niger Deltans be not deceived by the tricks of the devil. Lawlessness is never a solution. Obviously their aim is to engender panic and a sense of insecurity in the region using MEND's name but we assure them that their cup is full and will soon be caught up with by the law.”

“We urge all Community leaders, opinion leaders and all peace loving Niger Deltans not to panic but rather firmly dissociate themselves from these criminals and to collaborate with the JTF and other security agencies in ensuring that we rid our society of these criminals.”

On MEND’s claim of being responsible for the massive oil leakages from Oil Well 62 in Ewerusuo community in Nembe kingdom,the JTF spokesperson argued that the claim is false. “The claim by those criminals of blowing up a well head is false as our troops on patrol along Nembe Creek 1 Flow Station have earlier reported an incident of oil spill on water around Owelesu Community in Nembe resulting from the activities of oil thieves and a joint patrol team comprising of JTF troops and Nigerian Navy personnel was able to trace the spillage.”

“The troops observed a fresh dug out possibly for laying illegal pipeline and fresh foot prints which were traced to a small camp. Items such as hack saw for cutting pipeline, 3 shovels, food items, cooking pots, sleeping mat, foot wears, bags of pure water and clothes were found in the camp. It was suspected that some miscreants were trying to open up a new illegal loading point. The camp has been destroyed in situ and patrols will be maintained. The oil well was shut down to avoid further spill pending repairs.”