Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tompolo And Militants Clashes Over Avengers' Threats To Attack Oil Facilities

An embattled former Niger Delta militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, on Monday warned Niger Delta Avengers to desist from associating him with planned attacks on oil and gas installations in the region.

Tompolo, who is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for corruption charges, stressed that he would never resort to the destruction of oil facilities in the region.

The former militant leader, in a statement signed by his media consultant, Paul Bebenimibo, insisted that he had no affiliation with the NDA and its sister militant group, Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, as accused.

Tompolo, who has been on the run since when he was declared wanted by the EFCC in 2016, said he was neither working with President Muhammadu Buhari nor militant groups.

The statement read, “Ordinarily, we would have ignored media statements by these so- called avengers and reformed avengers because it is not a new tactic by these groups in bringing Tompolo’s name to whatever thing that happens in the Niger Delta region because of his legal battle with the government.

“Let it be stated at this point that Tompolo is not the only person having legal issues with the present government. Let us also state here that these accusations do not take away the fact that our dear country is at a crossroads. Eminent Nigerians have repeatedly said in recent times that Nigeria has never been divided like this since her independence in 1960.

“We wish to reiterate our earlier stand that nothing will make Tompolo to resort to destruction of oil facilities he once protected in a contractual arrangement. Those that have ears let them hear!”

But the RNDA, after an enlarged meeting in the creeks of Delta State, insisted that the NDA’s threat was the handiwork of Tompolo.

The coalition, in a statement at the end of its meeting, claimed that the so-called high command of the NDA was no other person than Tompolo.

It claimed that Tompolo was hiding in the creeks for his alleged sins against the region by using the struggle to empower himself and his immediate family and a few cronies.

The coalition said, “The self-acclaimed spokesperson for the NDA, ‘Major General’ Murdock Agbinibo, is no other person than one of the three apostles of Tompolo, who have deserted their Warri homes and are on the run with their master, who is using the name of the Niger Delta struggle to empower himself and his family alone.

“The RNDA wants to state that if any form of attack or destruction of oil pipelines and oil facilities happens in the creek of the region due to this shameless threat statement by the so-called Niger Delta Avengers, formed and coordinated by Tompolo and his cohorts, the people should hold Tompolo responsible for any harm or damage that the people will face.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, on Monday advised the Avengers against attacks on oil installations. He gave the advice shortly after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed doors.

The meeting held at the Presidential Villa was meant to brief the President on ongoing efforts to reposition the oil-rich region. In an interview with State House correspondents after the meeting, the minister appealed to the Niger Delta Avengers that recently called off their ceasefire to be more patient with the government.

He said the government was also committed to the development of the region which the Avengers are also demanding.

The minister said, “My message to the Niger Delta Avengers is not just verbal but it has been demonstrated at all times.

“We have been appealing to them to just be patient with us because most of the times, the issues that are brought up are those that tend to portray the quest for the development of the region.”

Usani recalled that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had directed that the Maritime University at Okerekoko should take off and also directed that a minimum of N5bn be budgeted for the take-off.

While debunking the claims by members of the NDA that the government had not fulfilled its promises to the region, the minister said apart from the Maritime University, the government was working on involving the communities in the surveillance of the petroleum facilities in the region.

Similarly, the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, on Monday, appealed to members of the NDA not to renew hostility against oil facilities in the Niger Delta region, saying the state would be affected.

Okowa, who just returned from a two-week vacation, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu, urged the militant group to still give the Federal Government time to meet some of the demands of the people of the region.


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