By Olasunkanmi Akoni
THE Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger Delta, Major-General Sarkin Yarkin-Bello, met with the repentantÂ militant leader, Mr. Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, on Sunday, at Oporoza in Delta State.
The duo was said to have intimately hugged themselves, like lost friends.
The occasion was at theÂ Sunday visit to Tompoloâ€™s stronghold in Gbaramatu Kingdom by the Minister of Defence, Major-General Godwin Abbe (rtd.); Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State; former chairman of the Board of Trustees of PDP, Chief Tony Anenih; Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe and others.
Yarkin-Bello had declared Tompolo wanted, dead or alive,Â on May 21, a week after no fewer than 13 soldiers, one of them, the son of a former Head of State were killed by militants, believed to be from his den.
Effort by Vanguard to reach the JTF boss yesterday was unsuccessful as one of his aides who picked his cell phone said, â€œOga dey for sallahâ€.
The JTF boss who launched an audacious attack on militants during the period overran Tompoloâ€™s Camp 5 and confiscated a large part of his armoury, but, the cordon and search operation that was mounted by soldiers to fish out the militant leader failed to smoke him out.
However, President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua declared amnesty for militants while the manhunt was on and Yarkin-Bello called off the operation.
He had told newsmen before that time that he had not met Tompolo and would want to catch him alive.
Their meeting on Sunday at Oporoza was like of two strongmen, who now have respect for themselves because of the exploits in their two worlds.
Tompolo was initially bitter with the JTF boss but Vanguard was told by one of his aides yesterday, â€œThe way he embraced the Commander, he has forgiven him for the things that were done to him.â€.