•How he is surviving in secret hideout
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
OBVIOUSLY, founder of the non-operational Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, neither foresaw nor prepared for his travails in the past few months, which have seen him move underground, despite the fact that he was used to hard-hitting existence as an ex-militant leader.
Although he did not expect a rose-colored life with the All Progressives Congress, APC –led government of President Muhammadu Buhari given his romance with former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, he thought he could just live a quiet life.
Tompolo was, however, in the wrong as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, not only froze his accounts, but also prepared charges against him, especially regarding his business dealings with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.
Some highly placed persons initially advised him not to panic, saying that his supposed ordeal was politically motivated and would be sorted out before long, but he saw the futility of the assurance when the police withdrew the escorts attached to him and the EFCC deepened its claws on him. At the behest of the anti-graft agency, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos issued a bench warrant for his arrest and also gave an order for the seizure of his assets when he failed to appear before the court to face the charges against him.
Having read the handwriting on the wall, Tompolo, feared and admired at the same time by folks for his creek dexterity took cover. The police said they were on his trail since then, but until date, there is no news about his whereabouts.
Reports available to Saturday Vanguard, however, indicated that life has not been the same for the Ibe-ebidouwei of Ijaw nation since he went underground.
Fasting and prayer
Our dependable source said his current ordeal has drawn him closer to God since it was clear to him that only the finger of God can save him from the clutches of those that want him behind bars. He has reportedly embarked on fasting and prayers to turn the heart of God to save him.
People know Tompolo as a strong adherent of the Amasiekumor deity in his native Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State and a believer of Egbesu, an Ijaw combat deity, so how he combines his traditional belief to pray to the Almighty God for deliverance at this trying time is ambiguous. Many Christians say their Holy Book is unequivocal that you cannot serve God and Mammon at the same time.
The only plausible escape is if Tompolo, supposedly an evangelist of the Celestial Church has decided to embrace the only true God in his hour of need, which is possible as Saul was not only seen with the prophets, he prophesied when the Spirit of God came upon him.
Our source did not say when Tompolo commenced the fasting and prayer programme for deliverance from God. His Media Adviser and Consultant, Mr. Paul Bebenimibo, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard corroborated our findings that Tompolo was waiting on God to intervene in his tribulations. He said the ex-militant leader strongly believes that God would see him through.
His major worry
Bebenimibo asserted: “I want to tell you that even in his moment of agony, Tompolo is disturbed about the non-resumption of studies at the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, which he is proud to have attracted to Gbaramatu kingdom and Delta state. He is also praying for God to touch the heart of the present leaders to lift the suspension of work on the permanent site of the university and commence academic activities at the permanent site, which is ready.”
He said: “If the university had taken off as planned, it would have turned around many things in the area by now and many people will be productively engaged. The place will also be a tourist destination.”
…Doesn’t rely on friends
Regarding friends, the ex-militant leader has lost many of his friends in the course of his ongoing predicament, but surprisingly, he has also gained more admirers from quarters that he never thought of. However, Bebenimibo insisted: “Tompolo does not rely on friends; he knew right from time that when one finds himself in difficulty, family members, not even friends alone, will abandon him.”
Another source, who agreed with the assertion added: “It happened in 2009 when the military was bombarding everywhere in Gbaramatu kingdom in search of him, it was some of his friends and even relatives that government used to fight him.”
Unforeseen birthday celebration
Last month in Warri, some newborn friends of Tompolo , led by an activist and president of Ijaw People Development Initiative, IPDI, Comrade Austin Ozobo, celebrated his 45th birthday in absentia. Others were the president, Niger Delta Security Watch Organization of Nigeria, Barrister Dickson Bekederemo, Mr. Alpal Ebitonma,
On his whereabouts, the source told Saturday Vanguard: “That is a no-go-area or do you (reporter) candidly want me to reveal his location to you? Of course, that is not possible, but what I can tell you is that it was necessary that he went out of circulation because of the manhunt for him. It is not easy for him but he is safe, remember that he had had cause in the past to seclude himself to fight for his people.”
How he survives
On how he lives his life now, the source said, “All I can tell you is that he is surviving, he has been in a more critical condition in the past and he survived. Today, he has gone underground; there is nowhere or any situation he cannot survive.”
Saturday Vanguard learned that the manhunt and freezing of Tompolo’s accounts have affected his financial standing.
Immediate family shielded :
Tompolo had always insulated his family, particularly his wife and children, from his struggle and as expected; members of his inner circle have shielded them from the present happenings.