Hand Tompolo Over
The Ijaw Elders have declared that they can’t hand Tompolo and questioned why President Buhari will give such an instruction.
The Federal Government has asked some communities in the area to hand Tompolo, the former General Officer Commanding, GOC, of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo to JTF and EFCC .
This became necessary to allow for Tompolo’s investigation and possible trial over recent oil installations bombings and fraud allegations.
The Ijaw Elders said it was impossible for them to hand Tompolo over to the security agencies because they do not have such powers neither do they even know where to find him (Tompolo) right now.
The Chairman of Ijaw Council of Elders, Delta State chapter, Chief Bare Etolor said “It is unfair for the Federal Government to ask Ijaw communities to handover suspects that carried out the bombing because we do not know them. In addition, I do not see how anybody expects us to handover Tompolo to security agencies because we do not have the power to do that, except they want to humiliate us.”
From Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekame, who is also a leader in the area made it clear that it wasn’t within their powers to hand over Tompolo thereby corroborating what Etolor had earlier said.
Some Ijaw Youths and other Niger Delta youth bodies such as Niger Delta Security Watch Organszation of Nigeria, NWSON and Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI have joined their voices to support the position of the Ijaw Elders.
They declared that many Ijaw people are aware of the fact that Tompolo’s persecution is because of his refusal to join APC party after much persuasion by the party.
However, Mr. Oghenjabor Ikimi, who happens to be the Executive Director of Centre for the Vulnerable and Underprivileged, CENTREP, Warri, Delta State, said he saw nothing wrong if community members provide valuable information to government agencies on how to get the culprits.
Vanguard quoted Chief Etolor as saying “It is unfortunate that the Presidency wants to handle the matter from this angle. Which of the Northern elders did they tell to produce the Boko Haram leaders that are bombing in their areas. So, why are they telling us to handover people who bombed pipelines here?
“If they know the person that did it and ask us to help produce the person and we see him, we can assist with information if we have any. How can anybody say Ijaw leaders should handover suspects? We do not know who did it.
“It is not right. Even if they tell us the person, we do not have arms to arrest anybody. What they are doing is to make us not to have confidence in this government. What power do we have over armed militants? We can only talk to them as elders, not arrest them with guns.
“I am not supporting criminality. In fact, anybody among us, the Ijaw elders, can be a victim anytime. It is difficult for us to produce Tompolo. If they cannot see him with all their intelligence, where do they expect us to see him? I have not even seen Tompolo myself for ages.”
But Chief Gbenekame in his own opinion said, “How can you say we should hand Tompolo over to the EFCC, are we security agents? If he had dealings with EFCC, they should arrest him. Why are they calling Gbaramatu elders?
“What I know is that Tompolo made many enemies when he worked for the Federal Government to guard the pipelines. He burnt illegal refineries, razed boats and these people are not happy. He has been a partner to the government all this while, that is why we called for a political solution to the matter.”
As well, Niger Delta Secuity Watch Organisation of Nigeria, NSWON and Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI, in a joint statement by their leaders, Dickson Bekederemo and Austin Ozobo, said: “The people of Niger Delta and the ljaw in particular are not at war with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. However, the ljaw will never sacrifice their bravest to satisfy the quest for neo-colonialism. When the moment comes, we shall stand with Tompolo.
“We believe that what the Federal Government wants to do is a repeat of what the Russians did to Poland during World War II, kill the bravest of their braves, the rest is history. We wish to inform President Buhari that in the hearts and minds of every Niger Deltan lies an embryonic Tompolo waiting to hatch.
“We call on President Buhari not to be deceived by a few pipelines surveillance contract seekers. There was Judea, yet Christ resurrected from the dead. There were traitors, yet Allah protected Prophet Mohammed in the cave with a cob web when people led his enemies to capture him.
“It may interest you to know that Tompolo is a strong member of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, even in defeat. Unlike some elements of the party from our region that are bread and butter members. Tompolo alleged that the APC- led government persuaded him to decamp to its fold. The party until date, did not refute his assertion.
“Suddenly, the EFCC froze the bank account of Global West Vessels Limited. The management of the company initiated an action against EFCC in court. The agency bluntly refused to file a defence, only for the agency to file charges against him in another Federal High Court.
“The question we will like to ask is: Is Tompolo the chief executive or the Managing Director of Global West Vessels Limited? Assuming, for the purpose of argument, that Global Vessels Limited committed financial crime, is Tompolo the alter ego of the company? The EFCC invitation and subsequent harassment and persecution of Tompolo goes beyond what meets the eye.”
The end appears to be far on this issue, we hope to keep you updated periodically.