… Says, count me out of new militant group
- DSS picks group’s leader
By Our Correspondent
FOUNDER of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, has dissociated himself from the activities of a new militant group, Niger Delta Avengers.
Besides, the former warlord, who has a running battle with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) urged President Muhammadu Buhari to carry out an investigation about activities of members of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) who are aggrieved that for close to one year, they have yet to get political patronage from him.
In a statement personally signed by him, Tompolo said he had contributed more than any other individual to the development of the coastal areas of the oil-rich Niger Delta and has no business returning to the creeks after accepting offer of presidential amnesty granted by late president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Tompolo’s clarification came on the heels of fresh tension generated by the emergence of the new group that has claimed responsibility for the recent damage caused major oil installations in the oil-rich region.
Before Tompolo’s statement, the nation’s intelligence community had linked the group to him. Operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) quietly picked leader of the faceless group. He was arrested in the Governor’s Lodge of a South-South state.
Lat week, the group said it was prepared to reduce Nigeria’s daily oil production and supply to zero barrel.
“The same factor that brought about the Niger Delta arms struggle is fast resurfacing as the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is poised to exterminate Niger Delta people for being benevolent enough to allow the nation’s mono-economy thrive on our oil.
“We are being oppressed, pushed to the wall on various fronts which is why we have picked up the challenge to be the outlaws this government will have to contend with till daily production of oil is reduced to zero in the Niger Delta, so government can use the oil from the North to run Nigeria’s mono-economy.
But, Tompolo said: “It could be recalled that when I founded the defunct MEND, at the peak of the Niger Delta agitation for better living for the people, I did not mince words. And, so, if I were behind the Niger Delta Avengers, I would have come out openly to claim leadership. I am a man of my words; therefore, I should be taken as such by the security agencies.
“It is very unfair to link me with this new militant group, which I do not agree with in terms of its philosophy, ideology and mode of operation. I am not part of the Niger Delta Avengers.
“It is very important to let Mr President and the security agencies in the country know that, some members of the APC, particularly from Bayelsa and Delta States are not happy with him (President Buhari) because they have not gotten anything from him after almost a year since he assumed office by way of appointments and contracts.
“I am aware of how such persons are chasing the Minister of Petroleum for State, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu around. It is my humble advice to the Federal Government to thoroughly investigate some of the servicing companies engaged in repairing damaged pipelines as sabotage on their own part is not ruled out.’’