Tompolo asks military to return monarch’s golden sword
It’s a baseless way to paint us in bad light, says DDI
Wanted former militant leader Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo, yesterday wrote President Muhammadu Buhari, reminding him that the military authorities were yet to return the golden sword and symbol of authority of the Gbaramatu monarch the soldiers allegedly removed from the ruler’s palace when they invaded and occupied Oporoza town.
He also told the president that the innocent students and palace staff picked up by the troops on May 28, 2016, were yet to be released.But the Director of Defence Information (DDI) Brig-Gen Rabe Abubakar told The Guardian there cannot be anything further from the truth than the allegation that items were collected from a shrine.
He said: “It is baseless way of concocting stories to digress the shame and paint the armed forces in a bad light.”Part of the letter to the president read: “Today is exactly 31 days after the invasion of the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Oporoza town, by your military led by Brig. General Faruk Yahaya of the 4th Brigade, Benin City, in search of me, with the allegation that I am the one behind the bombing and destruction of crude oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.
The incident happened in my absence, but I was informed that the army was on the loose and committed so much abomination in the community. Imagine, the traditional ruler of the kingdom was literally placed on house arrest for one week.
“As I said in my previous publications, the military made away with the symbol of authority of the Gbaramatu people from the Egbesu Shrine, which I am the Chief Priest. They also made away with other valuables worth several millions of naira from the community. The most annoying one is the purported arrest of 10 promising young men, most of whom are orphans, who are secondary school students sitting for the West African Senior Secondary School Examinations (WASSCE) and other palace staff whom they labeled members of the Niger Delta Avengers. As I write you now, these innocent young men are still with your military for no reason. This is truly man’s inhumanity to man in our own country. This was how they arrested Chevron Nigeria Limited workers on routine duty in Kokodiagbene community of Gbaramatu kingdom, and labelled them members of Niger Delta Avengers,” he said.
According to Tompolo, it took spirited effort by leaders of the kingdom and other well-meaning Nigerians to convince the military, that the men they arrested were not involved in pipeline destruction.
He also urged Buhari to recall a similar incident that occurred in May 2009 during President Yar Adua’s administration when the military invaded several communities in Gbaramatu kingdom, during which also traditional worship centres were desecrated, property were looted and above all, the multi-billion naira ultra-modern magnificent palace of the Pere of Gbaramatu kingdom was burned down, and his golden crown stolen by the military.
This incident also led to the declaration of the Presidential Amnesty programme, as the government found out that military action was not the best way to address the Niger Delta question .The rest has become a history in the lives of those who led that invasion.
I believe Mr. President should learn a lesson from the 2009 military invasion and do the needful,” the former militant leader said.Tompolo said he is still in a great shock as the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, that was established by the previous administration in 2014, in the coastal area of the Niger Delta region to meet the yearnings and the aspiration of the people is yet to commence academic session, though all is set for the university to take off.
He challenged the president to send his most trusted persons to come and see things for themselves as against what some ministers who are clogs in the wheel of progress as against your change mantra are saying.
The Director of Defence Information, reacting to The Guardian’s enquiries further said such unfounded allegations can only be sponsored by those who are involved in the criminality that is going on the region. “It is the same people carrying out these crimes and sponsoring it that are carrying out the media campaigns to malign the military, brandish bold faced lies and all that. We don’t get engage in such cheap activities especially during such operations, every personnel is careful not to get involved in such crime. So the allegation is completely baseless, it is completely false not rational.”
On the allegation that some young school boys were taken by the security personnel when they raided the community, Abubakar retorted that these were not just young men “but pipeline vandals caught red-handed, as the military officers caught them with explosives and other equipment that are used in damaging pipelines and other critical infrastructure, before taking them into custody.”