Wanted Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo (better known as Tompolo), today declared his readiness to appear in court to defend himself against allegations of fraud and illegal diversion of funds. Tompolo has so far defied invitations by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to show up for prosecution on the charges.
In statement issued by his media aide, Paul Bebenimibo, Tompolo disclosed that his lawyers were working on the timing of his appearance in court. The statement added that the erstwhile militant had decided to appear in court to demonstrate his respect for Nigerian laws and to enable him to establish his innocence of the allegations.
Mr. Bebenimibo’s statement dismissed as frivolous the claims by some ex-militant leaders, including one named Africanus Ukparasia, that the recent bombing of oil and gas facilities in Delta State was part of a plan by Tompolo to spite the Federal Government of Nigeria for filing criminal charges against him.
The statement asserted that Tompolo played no role in the recent bombing of oil pipelines in the creeks of Delta State. Instead, he had warned that some aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa and Delta States were out to destroy national assets, adding that linking Tompolo to the attacks was a plot to rubbish Tompolo’s stance against criminality in the region.
Mr. Bebenimibo’s statement claimed, “aggrieved APC members are bent on rubbishing [Tompolo] before the world as a result of the outcome of the 2015 governorship election in Bayelsa State, where the APC lost the election. And all these are being done to worsen further his ordeal in the hands of the ruling APC Federal Government. And true to his fears, these set of APC chieftains that joined the party immediately after the presidential election of 2015, were the first people to accuse him of bombing the pipelines to divert public attention.”
The statement recalled that the APC’s former chairman, Bisi Akande, had described the recent defectors to the party as parasites, adding that the disgruntled APC chieftains from the Niger Delta had “also threatened to cause problem in the Niger Delta region if the pipeline surveillance contract in Delta State already awarded to Messrs Ocean Marine Solution is not re-awarded to them. This is a clear testimony of their involvement in the bombing of the pipelines. Since then, we all have seen their role in misleading the military and the general public.”
Reacting to allegations made against him by the Bayelsa-based ex-militant, Africanus Ukparisia (widely known as General Africa), Tompolo declared, “this same Africanus Ukparasia threatened me not to show interest in the Bayelsa elections, as he was a strong supporter of the APC candidate. He killed and maimed fellow Ijaw people because of a governorship election, and now he is the one accusing Tompolo of bombing pipelines.”
Bebenimibo’s statement claimed that Tompolo had no reason to bomb pipelines because of the EFCC case, adding that the ex-militant was confident of proving his innocence.
Tompolo’s aide stated that his boss “will appear in court at the appropriate time as his lawyers are working towards that. Imagine Africanus is alleging that Tompolo is preparing for war with the Federal Government. And that he is purchasing speed boats to that effect. For what? Let it be known to Nigerians and the entire world that Tompolo will never wage a war against the Federal Government as he has sworn in 2009 when he accepted the presidential amnesty declared by [the] late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He has kept faith with Nigeria.”
The statement said that Tompolo had pledged to work with the Muhammadu Buhari administration unconditionally, adding that he stood by that commitment. Mr. Bebenimibo said Tompolo was “seriously troubled by the recent pipeline bombing incident, because he has provided security for these pipelines even when the government refused to pay him. And so, he could not have been the one to damage [the] same pipelines.”
The statement added: “As regards acquisition of speed boats for war, it is the biggest lie of the year, as the military is also aware of the boats and pick-up vans he purchased in 2011 for the surveillance of oil facilities as he was working hand in hand with the military then.”
The statement described Tompolo as “a man of peace,” adding that he was “poised for the development of the coastal Niger Delta region. He prays that this matter will be amicably resolved so that everyone will know that he always put his people above his personal gains.”