Why They Are After Me – Tompolo.
— Dec 21, 2014.
Ex-militant and former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, has said that the controversy over the purchase of six gunboats, allegedly by his company, was because politicians were out to tarnish his hard-earned image ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday yesterday, the ex-militant said he is not a politician but a concerned Nigerian and a businessman that some, masterminded by some Niger Delta ethnic chauvinists, are trying to weigh down and paint as someone with the desire to wage war against the Nigerian state through arms buildup in the Niger Delta as 2015 approaches.
The Niger Delta warlord, while further reacting to media reports that he had acquired gunboats from Norwegian government with the assistance of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) ostensibly for the policing of the nation’s waterways, said that the boats are not even gunboats and have been with NIMASA for over two years.
“It is pertinent for the ignorance of those behind this blackmail to be exposed. The truth is that these boats in question had been in the care of NIMASA for two years now, and for the avoidance of doubt, the boats are not warships or gunboats as being erroneously spread by mischief makers. The boats, as acquired, are neither equipped with war arsenals nor ammunition carrier. They are simply boats equipped with modern surveillance devices to track oil thieves and in the process increase the nation’s revenue base through NIMASA,” he said.
Speaking further, Tompolo said Niger Delta ethnic chauvinists are also trying to smear his character, adding that, “I am not surprised that this blackmail is coming at this critical time that Nigeria is facing serious security challenges, even as the most decisive moment for the nation which is the 2015 election gets closer.
“For one, the initial reaction was to just ignore this cheap blackmail and forge ahead with my personal commitment, but the propensity with which these lies are daily being peddled requires a bit of clarification to the Nigerian public.”
On the issue of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Ogidigben, which involved the $16 billion Delta Gas City project that has pitted the Itsekiris against their Ijaw brothers in Delta State, the former warlord said dragging his name into it is a political ploy to make him an enemy of well-meaning Nigerians and further resurrect old wounds.
He added that he does not subscribe to cheap blackmail, “because my contributions to the administration led by President Goodluck Jonathan will continue to be meaningful, and I am not deterred by cheap blackmail.”