Ex-militant and commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) , Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, also known as Tompolo, yesterday returned to creeks and declared war on the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He has consequently blown up two crude and gas pipelines located in Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government area of Delta State. Newswatch Times on Saturday gathered authoritatively that the ex-militant and his boys regrouped at a riverine community in the council area three days ago to wreak havoc.
A senior military officer disclosed that Tompolo and his boys blew up a crude pipeline at Kpokpo, a boundary community between Gbaramatu Kingdom and Madangho, Itsekiri community, in the early hours of Friday apparently to indicate his preparedness to engage the Federal Government in a war. The pipeline supplies crude oil to Warri and Kaduna refineries. The aim is to stop supply of fuel and other petroleum products to the refineries.
It was also disclosed that the ex-militant blew up a pipeline that supplies gas from Escravos to the Nigerian Gas Company(NGC) located in Ughelli, Ughelli South Local Government area of the state. This is to frustrate the effort of the Federal Government in its gas development project as well as to disrupt the supply of electricity across the country.
The source said it was obvious that the ex-militant was poised for war as he is alleged to have moved large quantity of food and water to the creeks where his boys are located, but added, “we are monitoring every move by the recalcitrant warlord”.
Another security source said heavily armed soldiers have been moved to the creeks around Gbaramatu kingdom to checkmate the plans of Tompolo and his boys.
He said several gunboats including the newly acquired frigates have been deployed to the creeks while military build-up is apparent in the area. It was learnt that part of the ploy of Tompolo is also to attack Itsekiri communities to create widespread confusion in the state.
These developments, Newswatch Times on Saturday gathered, came up few hours after a bench warrant of arrest was issued on Tompolo which has triggered mass movement of residents and oil workers from riverine communities of the Niger Delta region.
This exodus followed the movement of heavily armed soldiers and equipments to the creeks in response to the twin explosions of pipelines by the regrouped ex-militants. Those loyal to Tompolo had allegedly regrouped at different camps since last week to engage security forces in anticipation of the order of the Federal High Court which ordered the arrest of their leader.
Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Ikoyi Federal High Court, Lagos, had on Thursday ordered the arrest of Tompolo over his failure to honour court summons on alleged fraudulent land contract for the construc¬tion of Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Warri South West, Delta State.
The spokesman of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the umbrella body of Ijaw youths worldwide, Mr Eric Omare, had on Thursday said in a statement that there was anxiety in the region. According to him, “there has been anxiety since Tompolo was first invited by the EFCC.”
Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos had issued a warrant of arrest on Tompolo over his failure to appear be¬fore the court to answer charges of money launder¬ing preferred against him by the EFCC.
The EFCC had ear¬lier secured an order of court to serve the defen¬dant through substituted means by affixing the sum¬mons and charge at his last known address in Warri, Delta State.
At last Thursday’ sitting, Joseph Nwobike (SAN), counsel to the second ac¬cused person, Patrick Ak¬pobolokemi, former Direc¬tor General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NI¬MASA), pleaded with the court to give Tompolo more time as he was only served with the summon Thursday.
But Justice Buba in¬formed the court that the reason why the summons was ordered in the first place was to compel the sus¬pect to appear in court and defend the charges against him since he had consis¬tently refused to honour in¬vitations sent to him by the prosecution.
Festus Keyamo, pros¬ecuting counsel, had told the court that after a series of invitations were extended to him, Tompolo respond¬ed by placing an adver¬tisement in the newspaper warning the EFCC not to push him to war.
Effort to get the reaction of the Commander, NNS Delta, Commodore Raimi Abubakar, proved abortive as he refused to pick or reply messages sent to his phone.