By Emma Amaize
WARRI- FORMER militant leader, Government Ekpempuolo, alias Tompolo, again on Sunday, said he does not know the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, and urged the militant group to cease blowing up oil facilities and embrace dialogue if it was truly fighting for Niger Deltans.
Tompolo, in a statement, said: “I wish to appeal to you (Niger Delta Avengers) once again to stop the bombing of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region, and embrace the path of dialogue with the Federal Government of Nigeria, as the government is ready to hear you out on whatever issues you wish to discuss with it.”
“You guys know that I do not know you and how to reach you, except through the mass media. If truly, as you guys claimed, that you are fighting for the well-being of the people of the Niger Delta, then you must adhere to this appeal, otherwise, the world will label you as criminals,” he said.
The ex-militant leader asserted: “You members of the Niger Delta Avengers group are aware that some mischievous persons have continued to point accusing fingers at me that I am either behind you or directly carrying out the destruction of oil pipelines across the Niger Delta region, therefore , I should be arrested by the Nigerian military.”
“Sadly, the military had bought this ethnic induced and wicked accusation without a single proof to show that I am truly behind you people. On the other hand, some have suggested that you may be part of the multitude of persons I had catered for, from economically empowering to payment of school fees, hospital bills, and house rents and so on.
“And that as am out of circulation as a result of my travails in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), you might be tempted to strike out on your own for sheer survival. Whichever the case, I still maintain that I know nothing about your group and the destruction of crude oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.
“I have made it clear in many occasions that the issue I am having with the EFFC will not make me to resort to violence and bombing of oil pipelines as my team of lawyers have already challenged the defective process of legal service on me in the Court of Appeal. I am a man of truth and peace, therefore will not be involved in violent activities,” he said.
His words: “Come to think of the consequences of your actions in the region so far, particularly as it affects me and the people of Gbaramatu kingdom. Just yesterday (Saturday), the Nigerian Army invaded the ancestral headquarters of the kingdom, Oporoza town, under the guise of looking for members of your group, particularly me, who they have wickedly linked to your group, and unleashed mayhem on the innocent people of the community. “
“And this happened in my absence as I am currently out of Gbaramatu kingdom, but what I gathered from some of the victims of the army invasion is unspeakable. Even pots of soup where not spared. The army has massively looted resident homes, desecrated traditional places of worship, committed sacrilege and abominations, and has continued to occupy the community until this moment.
“What a sad tale, one thing you should know is that government is not interested in its constitutional duty of protection of lives and the welfare of its citizens, rather it is interested in the continuous flow of crude oil in the region. Therefore, it could do anything to make the oil flow, not minding the security and the welfare of the people,” he said.
Tompolo added: “Remember, this same army arrested Chevron Nigeria Ltd staff and labeled them as members of the Niger Delta Avengers, few weeks ago, in one of the communities in Gbaramatu kingdom. It took a spirited effort by the community and other well-meaning Nigerians to intervene for the release of those Chevron staff. This shows that the Nigerian government can do anything to our innocent people in the communities in the guise of looking for members of the Avengers.”
He continued: “One other reason you guys must stop this new campaign of destruction is that the contractors in charge of repair works of attacked pipelines are equally culpable in the act of pipeline vandalism as they now sponsor their allies in the communities to continue to destroy pipelines to get more repair works. This is the sorry state we have found ourselves in the Niger Delta.”
“To this end, dear Niger Delta Avengers, you must put an end to this economic sabotage and allow the government to look into your demands now. I believe a word is enough for the wise,” he said.