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Lori-Ogbebor faults Tompolo’s pipeline contract, warns of imminent violence

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
14 September 2022   |   4:03 am
Rights activist, Rita Lori-Ogbebor, has condemned the award of pipeline protection contract to Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

Rita Lori-Ogbebor

Group counters rights activist, flays Dokubo
Rights activist, Rita Lori-Ogbebor, has condemned the award of pipeline protection contract to Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

There has been controversy over the deal between the Federal Government and Tompolo, who is a leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).

The award followed years of search for him by government over alleged offences. Tompolo was, arguably, Nigeria’s strongest militant. He got the same deal during the Jonathan presidency.

The Buhari administration opened talks with him following reports that the country loses over 500,000 barrels of oil daily to illegal bunkering.

But speaking with reporters in Abuja, on Monday, Lori-Ogbebor declared that it was wrong to hand over the guard of pipelines to an individual.

The Warri Kingdom traditional chief said it was the duty of the national government to take control of happenings in the oil-rich South-South region.

She accused the authorities of treating a matter involving the nation’s biggest earner of foreign exchange with levity.

The Itsekiri leader wondered why government could not protect oil facilities to prevent theft and other problems.

“There has been a parade of guns in a show of force. The region may be enveloped by war any moment from now,” she warned and demanded that the contract be revoked for peace to reign.

She also decried the state of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), alleging that individuals, including governors, had discarded the NDDC Act and placed their relatives on the board.

MEANWHILE, the Niger Delta Movement For Radical Change (NDMRC) has faulted Lori-Ogbebor’s position on the contract, accusing her of promoting tribal war.

The group equally attacked a former MEND leader, Asari Dokubo, for saying unpleasant things about Tompolo over the contract, describing him as enemy of the oil-rich Niger Delta region

NDMRC, an oil monitoring group in the region, in a statement signed by its President, Nelly Emma; Secretary, John Sailor; and Public Relations Officer, Stanley Mukoro, and made available to newsmen, yesterday, said: “Our attention has been drawn to the outburst of Chief (Mrs) Rita Lori-Ogbebor on the award of the pipeline contract to Tompolo and we must say that we are saddened by her position on the issue. It is very sad and painful that at a time that we are talking about how to promote national unity and halt the unabated illegal oil bunkering in the oil-rich region, Chief (Mrs) Rita-Lori Ogbebor is bringing tribal issues into the award of the pipeline contract to a respected son of the region, Tompolo. We are highly disappointed with her position on the pipeline contract.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we want to let Chief (Mrs) Rita-Lori Ogbebor know that Tompolo has magnanimously given the Itsekiri aspect of the pipeline contract to an Itsekiri son, Chief Emani Ayiri, in his determination to carry everybody along as far as the pipeline contract is concerned. Rita-Lori Ogbebor is certainly on her own because only recently, Itsekiri youths stormed Oporoza, headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South Council, where they declared their support for Tompolo and promised to work with him on the pipeline contract.”

On Dokubo, the group said: “We have come across all unpleasant comments and interviews against Tompolo by Asari Dokubo regarding the pipeline contract and it is unfair and very unfortunate that this same man helped by the former Niger Delta warlord, Tompolo, is out saying all kinds of things about a man so much respected throughout the country.

“Asari Dokubo has forgotten in a hurry how Atake Tom chased him away from Rivers State over 20 years ago and Tompolo sheltered him by giving him asylum to protect him from Atake Tom and his boys and at the end of the day, he paid Tompolo back by snatching the girlfriend of the senior brother of Tompolo and ended up marrying her and when returning to Rivers State, the same Tompolo gave him enough boys to follow him back home for his safety and protection,” the group said.