By Emma Amaize
WARRI- FORMER militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, complained to President Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday, that the military had not returned his symbol of authority as the chief priest of Egbesu Shrine, Oporoza, Gbaramatu Kingdom, removed from the traditional temple about a month ago.
Tompolo in an open letter to the President said that the incident occurred about 31 days ago when soldiers invaded Oporoza in his absence in search of him on allegation that he was behind the bombing of oil facilities in the region.
Besides the abomination, he said they also placed the traditional ruler of Gbaramatu kingdom under house arrest for one week.
He asserted: “As I said in my previous publications, the military made away with the symbol of authority of the Gbaramatu people from the Egbesu Shrine, which I am the Chief Priest. They also made away with other valuables worth several millions of naira from the community.”
“The most annoying one is the purported arrest of 10 young promising men, most of whom are orphans, who are secondary school students sitting for the West African Senior Secondary School Examinations (WASSCE) and other palace staff, and labeled them as members of the Niger Delta Avengers.
“As I write you now, these innocent young promising men are still with your military for no reason. This is truly man’s inhumanity to man in our own country. We are presently being treated like conquered people because of crude oil,” he said
He appealed to the President “to please kindly direct your army to return the looted items, including the symbol of authority, and also release those innocent young men to continue their academic programme, even though they have missed the WASSCE for this year.”
“Mr President, remember, there is no condition that is permanent. I have kept faith in this country. I have contributed in no small measure to the development of this country. It is my prayer that God Almighty should preserve me and meet you again to tell you my side of the numerous stories you have been inundated about me,” Tompolo said.
He added: “This was how they arrested Chevron Nigeria Limited Staff on routine duty in Kokodiagbene community of Gbaramatu kingdom, and labeled them members of Niger Delta Avengers. It took spirited effort by leaders of the kingdom and other well -meaning Nigerians to convince the military, that the arrested men were not involved in pipeline destruction.”
His words: “Mr President Sir, please permit me to quickly recall a similar incident that occurred in May, 2009, when this same military invaded several communities in Gbaramatu kingdom, under the command of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Traditional worship centres were desecrated, properties were looted and above all, the multi-billion naira ultra-modern magnificent palace of the Pere of Gbaramatu kingdom was burned down, and his golden crown was stolen by the military. “
Tompolo went on: “As peace loving people, the kingdom approached the courts and demanded compensation for the unlawful invasion and destruction of property, in which the court awarded 99 billion naira in favour of Gbaramatu kingdom. After seven years of that sad incident, the Federal Government is yet to pay the compensation.”
He added: “This incident also led to the declaration of the Presidential Amnesty programme for peace to reign, as the government found out that military action is not the best way to address the Niger Delta question and the rest become a history in the life of those who led that invasion. I believe Mr President should learn a lesson from the 2009 military invasion and do the needful.”
“Your Excellency Sir, as they say, wonders shall never end, I am still in a great shock as the only developmental project, Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, established by the previous administration in 2014 in the coastal area of the Niger Delta region to meet the yearnings and the aspiration of the people, is yet to commence academic session. Even though all is set for University’s take off,” he said.