From Osa Eresoyen, Asaba
Palpable tension and fierce war have enveloped the surroundings of a prominent ex-militant warlord and former leader of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, following recent boats he purchased.
Although Tompolo, while speaking to our correspondent on telephone has raised the alarm that politicians were out to tarnish his hard-earned image ahead of the 2015 elections, while according to him, he is not a politician, but a concerned Nigerian citizen and a business man.
Peoples Daily reliably gathered that Tompolo is not in charge of the said boats as alleged, as the boats were handed over to NIMASA, which in turn involved the Nigerian Navy in their usage and operations.
The Niger Delta warlord, in his reaction to media reports, denied that he had acquired some gun boats from Norwegian government with the assistance of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), ostensibly for the policing of the nation’s waterways.
Tompolo, not only exonerated himself from such media reports, but insisted that the latest onslaught on him was a mastermind by some Niger Delta ethnic chauvinists, adding that, “I am not surprised that
this blackmail is coming at this critical time that Nigeria is facing serious security challenges, even as the most decisive moment for the nation, which is the 2015 election gets closer.
“For one, the initial reaction was to just ignore this cheap blackmail and forge ahead with personal commitment, but the propensity with which these lies are daily peddles requires a bit of clarification to the Nigerian public; clearly the intent of those behind the malicious media report is to weigh me down and paint me as someone with the desire to wage war against the Nigeria state, by painting a picture of an arms build-up in the Niger Delta as 2015 approaches”.
On the issue relating to the alleged purchase of war boats, the ex-militant said, “It is a smack of ignorance on the part of those who had taken an ignoble delight to embark on this despicable path; it is pertinent for the ignorance of those behind this blackmail to be exposed; the truth is that these boats in question had been in the care of NIMASA of two years now; and for the avoidance of doubt, the boats are not war ships or gun boats, as being erroneously spread by mischief makers.
“The boats, as acquired, are neither equipped with war arsenals nor ammunition carrier; they are simply boats equipped with modern surveillance devices to track oil thieves and in the process, increase the nation’s revenue base, through NIMASA”.