- Insists he has no hand in bombings
By Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The ex-militants leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo), yesterday called on the new militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers, to put an end to its attacks on oil facilities, saying it would not do the nation any good, especially at this critical period of the country’s economy.
In a statement titled: ‘A Call to the Niger Delta Avengers to give Peace a Chance in the Niger Delta Region,’’ which he personally signed, the Ibe-ebidouwei of the Ijaw nation denied any involvement in the recent attacks.
According to him, ‘’You members of the Niger Delta Avengers group are aware that some mischievous persons have continued to point accusing fingers at me that I am either behind you or directly carrying out the destruction of oil pipelines across the Niger Delta region, therefore I should be arrested by the Nigerian military.
“Sadly, the military had bought this ethnic induced and wicked accusation without a single proof to show that I am truly behind you people. On the other hand, some have suggested that you may be part of the multitude of persons I had catered for, from economically empowering to payment of school fees, hospital bills, and house rents and so on.
“And that as I am out of circulation as a result of my travails in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), you might be tempted to strike out on your own for sheer survival.’’
Maintaining that he knows nothing about the new militant group and the destruction of crude oil facilities in the Niger Delta region, Tompolo said he had made it clear in many occasions that the issue he has with the EFFC would not make him resort to violence and bombing of oil pipelines.
He added that his team of lawyers had already challenged the defective process of legal service on him at the Court of Appeal.
‘’I am a man of truth and peace, therefore will not be involved in violent activities. That notwithstanding, for the love of country and out of patriotism, I wish to appeal to you once again to stop the bombing of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region, and embrace the path of dialogue with the Federal Government of Nigeria,’’ he claimed.
‘’The government is ready to hear you out on whatever issues you wish to discuss with it. You guys know that I do not know you and how to reach you, except through the mass media. If truly as you guys claimed that you are fighting for the well-being of the people of the Niger Delta, then you must adhere to this appeal otherwise, the world will label you as criminals.’’
Reminding the new group of the consequences of their actions in the Niger Delta region, particularly as it affects him and the people of Gbaramatu kingdom, Tompolo said just yesterday, the Nigerian Army invaded the ancestral headquarters of the kingdom, Oporoza town, under the guise of looking for members of the group, particularly him and unleashed mayhem on the innocent people of the community.
He added: ‘’And this happened in my absence as I am currently out of Gbaramatu kingdom, but what I gathered from some of the victims of the army invasion is unspeakable.
“Even pots of soup where not spared. The army has massively looted residents’ homes, desecrated traditional places of worship, committed sacrilege, abominations and what have you. The army has continued to occupy the community till this moment. What a sad tale.’’
Tomopolo said the federal government seemed not to be interested in its constitutional duty of protection of lives and the welfare of its citizens, except flow of crude oil in the region.
He further stated that the same army arrested Chevron Nigeria Ltd staff and labelled them as members of the Niger Delta Avengers few weeks ago in one of the communities in Gbaramatu kingdom, adding that it took a spirited effort by the community and other well-meaning Nigerians to intervene in the release of those Chevron staff.
“This shows that the Nigerian government can do anything to our innocent people in the communities in the guise of looking for members of the avengers,’’ he added.
“One other reason you guys must stop this new campaign of destruction is that the contractors in charge of repair works of attacked pipelines are equally culpable in the act of pipeline vandalism as they now sponsor their allies in the communities to continue to destroy pipelines to get more repair works. This is the sorry state we have found ourselves in the Niger Delta.’’