June 22, 2009

Clark to FG, JTF: Stop hunt for Tompolo

By Emma Amaize
A former Federal Commissioner for  Information and National Leader of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, urged President Umaru Yar’Adua to direct the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta to call off the search for wanted militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, since the Federal Government had made known its intention to grant amnesty to militants.

He argued that the continued search for Tompolo by JTF countermanded the amnesty package of the government, particularly as the cordon and search operation that was declared in the aftermath for the missing soldiers, led to the bombardment of Gbaramatu Kingdom and sacking of thousands of innocent villagers from their homes.

Clark, who just returned from a medical trip to London, frowned at the purported bid by JTF to link militants with the large cargo of arms and ammunition recently confiscated by security agents at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.

He said the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), was investigating the matter and the task force should leave on the matter.

According to him: “JTF should concern itself with matters that affect the Niger-Delta where they are and not Kano, they should allow DMI to carry out investigations and not give impression that the Ukraine plane was carrying weapons for militants, which is not true.”

He said JTF was supposed to be a peace-keeping force, but that it was acting like an enemy to the people, hence it used heavy weapons to attack the people in the name of search for militants.

Clark insisted that it was an insult to the Niger-Delta people for JTF to deny that it did not use weighty weapons when it was clear from the bombings that were carried out.

“Why should they deny it, did the JTF Commander not say that they planned the operation and they attacked from land, air and water, so what weapons did they use for the attack that razed and brought down houses?”

Clark urged Yar’Adua to caution the task force, as its statement seemed to undermine the amnesty plan by his administration.

“The government cannot be talking about amnesty and  JTF is saying things that tend to suggest that it is not ready for the planned amnesty.”

He said the people of the region were eagerly waiting for the amnesty package and urged militants to accept it. He also asked the government to make known plans for the demilitarisation of the region.