June 10, 2009

We’ll soon flush Tompolo out of hiding —JTF

By Emma Amaize & Emma Arubi
WARRI — THE Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger Delta has debunked the report that militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, who was declared wanted by the security outfit on May 21, had escaped to Ukraine, declaring that he would soon be smoked out of his hideout.

We'll soon flush Tompolo out of hiding —JTF. However MEND's ultimatum expired Monday night and there were fears that the militant group would resume fresh attacks as from yesterday (Tuesday)Also, leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), General Boyloaf, who indicated, weekend, his intention to accept the proposed amnesty for militants by the Federal Government, yesterday reassured oil companies in the region and asked them to ignore the 72-hour ultimatum given by the militant group to vacate the region, saying there was no cause to panic.

The MEND ultimatum expired Monday night and there were fears that the militant group would resume fresh attacks as from yesterday (Tuesday) but, General Boyloaf, who spoke exclusively to Vanguard said: “As far as I am concerned, nothing will happen in Bayelsa, Ondo, Edo, Rivers and parts of Delta State, where I have given directives that they should not blow up oil installations or disturb oil workers”.

Tompolo hasn’t escaped; we’ll smoke him out soon – JTF

The JTF in a statement yesterday entitled “The purported escape of Tompolo to Ukraine”, signed by its spokesman, Colonel Rabe Abubakar, said “we do not believe Tompolo has escaped from Nigeria”.

His words: “The purported escape of MEND leader, Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo), to Ukraine has been received as a surprise by some Nigerians. But, the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Restore Hope, believes that such news is being peddled by some unpatriotic Nigerians who, for decades, have been benefiting from the militant’s questionable source of wealth.

“We want to say that for anybody to contemplate his escape is nothing but a ploy to distract the JTF from tracking him down and bringing him to face justice. With each passing day, we are getting nearer to him and sooner than later, we will get him”, he said.

“Moreover, as far as the JTF is concerned, Tompolo is still in Nigeria and no effort will be spared in bringing him to book.

“He is, therefore, advised, for his sake and the sake of right-minded Niger-Deltans to submit himself willingly to the arms of the law because as it is, there is no going back in our doubling efforts to arrest him — and arrest him we shall”, Colonel Abubakar said.

Speaking with Vanguard on phone from his hideout, General Boyloaf said: “as long as the Federal Government is sincere and is willing to develop the Niger-Delta region, it will have peace and I want to make the point clear: I heard that some politicians and some top people are parading themselves in Abuja that they were the ones that made me to accept amnesty, that is not true. I made the decision on my own and those people claiming the credit should desist from it.

“In due course, I will make the details public and of course, it will be through Vanguard, the most authentic voice of the Niger-Delta people. President Umaru Yar’Adua and the Federal Government should not listen to those claiming credit for what they did not do. I spoke to Vanguard when I took the decision and I will make further comments at the appropriate time, through Vanguard”, he added.

Oil workers free to go about their duties

The MEND leader said, “Many people have been calling since my declaration, which was published in the Sunday Vanguard and I confirmed to them I was the one that made the comments attributed to me and like I said, I am one of those in the thick of the Niger-Delta struggle. Nothing will happen in Ondo, Rivers, Bayelsa and Edo States, the oil workers should go about their duties.

“Who is going to carry out the strikes? I have said that we are going to give peace a chance, so I am waiting to see those that will do it. As for me, I have told my people not to be involved in anything”, he said.

Asked if the two Niger-Delta ministers, Mr. Ufot Ekaette and Elder Godsday Orubebe were in touch with him on his new position, he said: “I have not been in touch with any minister for now, I took the decision on my own. Politicians are working for their own relevance.”