By Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The 3rd Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Effurun on Thursday night bowed to pressure from groups and ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias “Tomopolo” with the release of two of his associates arrested penultimate Monday.
The duo, Simeon Bebenimibo, a member of the Delta State Waterways Security committee and Bomboy Oluwa, a boat engine repairer, were arrested on Monday, July 18, 2016 by soldiers allegedly in connection with the activities of the dreaded members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
Security sources told THISDAY yesterday that the arrested suspects were released without any condition due to pressure from the various groups and directive from the Presidency.
“After extensive investigations, the military had no further reason to hold them and because of public outcry including that of ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, the Presidency ordered their release”, the security source disclosed.
THISDAY had exclusively reported the arrest of the aides of Tompolo penultimate Thursday which generated public outrage in the Niger Delta Region.
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative (IPDI) as well as other groups had reacted spontaneously decrying the arrests and subsequent detention of the duo.
Wanted ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias “Tompolo” had also in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari last Saturday complained bitterly over the continuous harassment and intimidation of his family members and associates by security agencies.
He had lamented that the harassment and intimidation of his family and associates was getting to a worrisome dimension noting that the situation was deteriorating by the day.
In the letter, which he personally signed and said would be his last, Chief Ekpemupolo noted that the harassment and intimidation of his relatives were being carried out by the security agencies in connivance with two notable members of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Delta State.
The Commanding Officer of 3rd Battalion, Major Monday Anzaku, did not pick his calls or respond to text message for confirmation of the release of the arrested persons.
However, the President of the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative (IPDI), Comrade Austin Ozobo, confirmed the release of the arrested duo.
Also, President of Niger Delta Security Watch Organisation of Nigeria, Dickson Bekederemo, a lawyer confirmed that the arrested persons were left off the hook on Thursday night and had since reunited with their families.
He commended the military for the release but cautioned that it should henceforth operate within the ambits of the law which stipulates detention of suspects not beyond 24 hours as enshrined in section 35 of the 1999 constitution as amended.
Bekederemo therefore urged the Federal Government to also order the release of 10 Oporoza youths, arrested over two months ago, during the invasion of Gbaramatu kingdom by the military in search of the Niger Delta Avengers.