Former leaders of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) from the six States of the region yesterday disputed claims that former militants from the region were responsible for the recent bomb attacks on oil and gas installations in Delta State. Instead, the assembled ex-militants insisted that the attacks were the handiwork of common criminals.
The former MEND leaders questioned the validity of the Federal Government’s (FG) assertion that the ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (AKA Tompolo), and other ex-militant leaders were responsible for the attack. While acknowledging that the FG’s investigation into the incident was of a high quality, the former MEND leaders maintained that there was very little evidence linking Mr. Ekpemupolo and others to the bombings.
The ex-militant leaders, under the aegis of the Leadership Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI) and led by Reuben Wilson (AKA General Pastor), insisted that the true perpetrators were criminals determined to disrupt the peace in the region and put the FG and the people of Delta at odds with one another.
“Some people claim Tompolo did, it but he has come out to clear himself. Tompolo is a man known for his words. If he was involved in such things, he would openly admit to it and give his reasons for committing the attacks. But he is not behind these recent attacks,” General Pastor noted.
The LPCDI leader went on to state that the former ex-militants was willing to work with the FG to ensure that those behind the attacks are apprehended and prosecuted.
General Pastor described the claims, and counterclaims, made by some Itsekiri leaders against Tompolo as an act of “panic”.
“Ex-militant leaders from the Ijaw and Itsekiri extractions have come out to express concern over the direction of the issue of the attack is heading. The era of violence is over in the Niger Delta and the ex-militant leaders can not send anybody to blow up a pipeline.”
The ex-militant leaders called on the FG to review the security of oil and gas pipeline facilities in the region and involve the ex-militant leaders.
“We urge the Federal Government to key in the ex-militant leaders into the protection and surveillance of oil pipelines in the region.
“The ex-militant leaders have important role to play with their knowledge of the creeks and water channels. Because we don’t carry arms, we expect that such a security job will involve the security personnel,” General Pastor concluded.