The former “operations commander” of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Government Ekpemupolo, has accused the Federal Government of planning to use his arrest to get at former President Goodluck Jonathan. Mr. Ekpemupolo, who is widely known as Tompolo, said the former president was the primary target of the Buhari administration.
Tompolo, who is a fugitive having so far declined to answer a summons by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the government’s plan to arrest him was a smokescreen to get at Mr. Jonathan. In a rare exclusive interview, Tompolo also alleged that his father, who died last week, was physically assaulted by Nigeria’s security agents on May 26, 2016 when they invaded Kurutie town in the Gbaramatu local government area where his late father, Thomas Ekpemupolo, resided before his death. The former militant said the soldiers who attacked his aged father also ransacked his and others’ homes in the community. According to him, his late father suffered serious bodily injuries which resulted in the amputation of his lower limbs.
“I am just a victim of circumstances. I am just a perceived enemy of the government,” Tompolo said in the interview. He added: “The intention of the government was to arrest former President Goodluck Jonathan. But they feel that arresting Jonathan without arresting me may be difficult, that was the reason why they are after me.”
He offered more details on his father’s death, stating, “It happened in the early hours of Saturday May 28, 2016 when the Nigerian Army, under the guise of looking for members of the Niger Delta Avengers and of course my humble self, who they have accused of being behind the activities of the group without any evidence, invaded Kurutie town, where my father, Chief Thomas Ekpemupolo, was staying. They ransacked the whole building and brutalized him. He sustained an injury in one of his legs. We took him to Warri for medical attention after one week of the incident, due to difficulty in movement from the village to Warri because of the activities of the Army. He was admitted at Lily Clinic, where thorough medical tests were conducted on him. The doctors later advised that his lower limb should be amputated because complication had set in as a result of the injury. We agreed to this and that was done. However, he later died in the clinic after two months.” Tompolo described claims by security forces that he has been sponsoring the dreaded militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers, as “baseless and a wicked allegation.” He said, “I have refuted the allegation. Even the government knows that I am not a sponsor of the Niger Delta Avengers. They are only looking for something to nail me.” He took a swipe at Nigeria’s judicial system, which he said kow-tows to the government in purely legal matters. He advocated that the judiciary should be independent in order to be effective in serving the people, especially in matters involving “perceived enemies of the state.”
Tompolo added, “I was the first person to sue the government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) because my company’s account was restricted unjustly, but till now, the court has been playing funny, as the court has refused to hear the matter. Instead, it has been adjourning the case at every sitting. I pray that the Nigerian Judiciary should be independent, otherwise it is difficult for a perceived enemy of the government to get justice and judgement.” Tompolo also criticized President Muhammadu Buhari, stating that the retired Army General does not have a clue about how to manage the economy of the country, as evidenced by Nigeria’s present economic situation.
“Now Nigerians have seen the way the government has run the economy aground because they are clueless, and only chasing shadows. It is difficult to give what you do not have.” He threatened to return to the creeks as a militant because the Federal Government has failed the people, adding that the only way he could help his people may be to go back to the creeks and lay among his people, as he had done in the past.
“That is where I come from, and the whole of my life I have stayed there. This is just a temporary setback as I prefer to stay in the creek than any other place,” said Tompolo.
“That was why I led the struggle for a better living condition for the people so that, in the shortest possible time, the creek is urbanized so that the people will live like their counterparts in the urban areas,” he added.