*’Ex-militant with weapons of war is danger to national security’
By Egufe Yafugborhi
THE Warri Study Group (WSG) has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to cancel a Federal Government contract awarded to Global West Vessel Service to secure Nigerian coastline, citing the contracts content and the company’s link to an ex-militant leader as threat to national security.
The Warri based knowledge building group, yesterday, reacted to media reports that the Global West Vessel Service, a private company believed to be controlled by one-time militant leader, Chief Ekpemupolo, a.k.a Tompolo, has added seven decommissioned Norwegian battleships to its weaponry.
In a statement signed by Edward Ekpoko, Chairman, and Tony Ede, Secretary, the WSG noted that if the reports that the fast-speed Hulk-class guided missile boats had been re-armed with new weaponry, purportedly to fight piracy, then Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder.
The report said, “Tompolo was a known militant granted amnesty by the Yar Adua administration and controls the private company engaged by NIMASA to oversee the security of the Nigerian coastline during Jonathan’s administration.
In what appeared to be an indictment of President Goodluck Jonathan on grounds of clanishness, the group charged:
“President Jonathan, Tompolo and the DG of NIMASA are all of Ijaw extraction. We see a script being acted out. Nigeria is the only country where an individual is awarded contract to oversee the security of the coastline of a nation with powers to import warships and sophisticated arms. “The question that begs for answer is this: What is the role of the Nigerian Navy in the security of the Nigerian coastline? Is the Ministry of Defence aware of all these arms deals?”
It further recalled that, over one year since the award of the said contract, not only has illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalization and sea-piracy been on the increase, perceived threat by Tompolo and his kinsmen has equally gone up.
“Are these warships and arm deals to fight piracy and other criminal activities on our coastline or to intimidate other ethnic nationalities or cause destabilization as in the North East?”, the WSG queried.
It called on Jonathan to intervene by withdrawing the contract awarded by NIMASA, warning, “ In the unfortunate event of weapons being turned against other ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta, those involved will be held responsible for crime against humanity by the international community even if Nigerian government fails to act.” According to a security expert based in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, “It is very shameful that the Presidency would open itself to clanish insinuations. Just last month, this same former militant of Ijaw extraction threatened everyone and President Jonathan, a fellow Ijaw, endorsed the threat by canceling a scheduled presidential engagement in Delta State. Today, the story is about an individual from Ijaw nation doing the work of the Nigeria Navy. Such acts would only further serve to demoralize the military”.