By Emma Amaize & Kingsley Omonobi
WARRI—FORMER General Officer Commanding, GOC, Movement for the Emanicipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Government Ekpumupolo, alias Tompolo, yesterday, said he will appear before the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, which issued a bench warrant for his arrest, January 14, but “at the appropriate time.”
The bench warrant followed a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which had filed different charges against Tompolo, over allegation of diverting N34 billion belonging to the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to personal use and laundering of N22.6 billion.
Tompolo, who spoke through his Media Adviser and Consultant, Mr. Paul Bebenimibo, also said he will never commence war against the Federal Government having accepted amnesty in 2009, reiterating that he was not party to the recent three-day bombing of crude oil and gas pipelines in Delta State.
He said: “Tompolo has no reason to bomb pipelines because of the EFCC case. He knows he is innocent. As he has stated on several occasions, he will appear in court at the appropriate time as his lawyers are working towards that.
“The truth of the matter is that Tompolo does not know anything about the N34 billion EFCC is talking about. First, it was N13 billion, now it is N34 billion. He is not a signatory to any of the companies mentioned in the said N34 billion case. So he does not know where this one is coming from.”
On allegation by another ex-militant leader, Africanus Ukparasia, alias “General” Africa that he bombed pipelines, Tompolo said he alerted the public that some aggrieved All Progressives Congress, APC, members in Bayesla and Delta States wanted to destroy national assets in the Niger Delta and finger him because of the outcome of the Bayelsa State governorship election.
“True to his fears, these APC chieftains that joined the party immediately after the presidential election of 2015 were the first people to accuse him of bombing the pipelines to divert public attention from themselves.
“These new APC members, who the former chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, described as parasites, also threatened to cause problem in the Niger Delta region if the pipeline surveillance contract in Delta State already awarded to Messrs Ocean Marine Solution was not re-awarded to them.
“This is a clear testimony of their involvement in the bombing of the pipelines. Since then, we all have seen their role in misleading the military and the general public,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Crisis Communication, CCC, has urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and other stakeholders to urgently invest in, and deploy digital system of surveillance, including drones, which has the capacity to detect and report anywhere pipelines are tampered with.
In a statement by its Executive Secretary, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (retd), the Centre also called for consultations and negotiations among stakeholders in the region especially the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Traditional rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities, TROMCON, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the Joint Task Force, JTF and youth leaders in the region with a view to identifying the real cause of the recent monumental economic sabotage and to proffer solutions.
Meanwhile, following renewed attacks on oil platforms and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta, the Nigerian Navy, yesterday, commenced modalities to train its officers and ratings in the use of un-manned maritime vessels, UMVs, as well as un-manned aerial vessels, UAVs, to be incorporated soon into its operations.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas, who made the disclosure at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, between the Nigerian Navy and the Indian Navy, noted that Navy personnel for the un-manned vessels would be trained in India with a view to enhancing surveillance capability.