Again, soldiers storm Tompolo’s town
• Say Visit Is Final Warning
• Militants Blow Up Chevron Pipeline
• Delta Sets Up Peace committee
Combat ready troops, yesterday, swooped on Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu kingdom and hometown of wanted ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo).
The action, the second of its kind in the last one week, comes barely 24 hours after another Chevron facility was bombed at Makaraba fields, in Warri South West council, Delta State.
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the shadowy militants group, which has claimed responsibility for previous pipeline explosions, has made no comments yet. Military authorities, however, say the attack bears the hallmark of the group.
About 30 soldiers armed to the teeth arrived in four gunboats and combed the community for hours. To the elders who summoned courage to ask questions, the soldiers said they had come in search of the militants who blew up the Chevron facilities.
The acting secretary of Gbaramatu traditional council, Chief Godspower Gbenekema, who confirmed the invasion, expressed concern that the visit by the soldiers was the second in a week.
He said the troops had come to Oporoza in search of militants who don’t live there, and that the army is merely seeking an opportunity to burn down the community again.
He added that the soldiers refused to see the traditional ruler of Gbaramatu kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Pere Oboro-Gbaraun II, who sent emissaries to invite the men to his palace.
Military authorities told The Guardian, yesterday, that they were in Oporoza to warn the community because they had credible information bombing of pipelines was being planned in the area.
“The next time there is a bombing, we’ll treat everyone in the community as militant,” said a military source.
Gbenekema said the soldiers left without seeing the king and found nothing incriminating.
He said: “Our fear is: the military is testing the ground. And one day, they will destroy the community. Why are they invading our community every time, without our notice? They should leave us alone. For soldiers to rush into a community without seeing the king, who is the head of the kingdom, is not a good development. They are treating us like a conquered people. We feel they are looking for an excuse to burn down the community.”
The Delta State government, meanwhile, has said it will set up a committee to go round oil producing communities, to sensitise people on the economic dangers of destroying oil facilities and prevent full invasion by soldiers.